Jimmy Webb’s 98 word microfiction, “The Unknown Route To Freedom”, will appear in the fourth issue of The Centifictionist (Vol. 2, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2021). Jimmy graciously answered a few brief questions for us. Read the interview below.
1. What inspired the story “The Unknown Route To Freedom”?
I’ve always struggled with microfiction, but saw a competition with Retreat West and thought I’d go for it. The theme was “Flight”, and there was a picture prompt of the inside of a car, looking out at the road ahead, with the rear view mirror in the shot. I usually have quite a dark style of writing, so the idea of a woman fleeing from her abusive partner immediately sprung to mind. I wanted to show her relief at the freedom, but with the sense of danger that she might not yet be free.
2. What inspires you and your writing?
Real life inspires my writing. I like to venture into people’s struggles and how they deal with them. I also draw inspiration from other writers. I love reading flash fiction, and sometimes I’ll read a piece that I might think about months after reading.
3. What keeps you going when experiencing times of misery and despair?
I’m fortunate in that I very rarely experience misery. I always try to spin a positive on things, but also attempt to keep away from negative or draining people and situations. Wellbeing methods help, such as breathing techniques and cold treatments. If anything tragic happens, past experiences can put things into perspective, but I’m blessed to have a wonderful family who keep me positive.
In terms of writing, if things aren’t going well I’ll happily take a break and concentrate on other activities I enjoy. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our writing we can forget the other things that make us who we are.
4. What advice do you have for microfiction writers?
The problem I have with my writing is that I like my reader to work, so the stories can become quite ambiguous. Feedback often states that the readers don’t really know what is happening. So my advice would be to sustain clarity, even in ambiguity. Also, the good old make every word count adage can’t be said enough. With such little space concision is key. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to cut what I felt to be some great prose, either to keep to word counts or because it didn’t really serve a purpose.
Jimmy Webb is a short story and poetry writer. He is a father and husband from the south east of England. Twitter: @_Jimmy_san_.