Author Profile: Ben Fitton

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How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

I started writing stories when I was thirteen or so, churning out poor facsimiles of the stuff I was into, but even though that was over twenty years ago I still don’t have the nerve to consider myself a writer.  I reserve that tag for those who treat writing fiction as a discipline: hours a day at lonely desks, tapping out thousands of words a week come hell or high water, maybe even using their output to help pay their mortgage.  I don’t or can’t do any of that.

I write but I’m not a writer.  At least not yet.

What inspired you to write flash fiction?

An unhealthy need for validation + the enabling influence of the Internet.

And clearly the immediacy of flash fiction is important, sculpted as it is out of busy lives or as an antidote to the tiring pursuit of The Novel.  It’s a quicker fix to the creative urge, the ignoring of which eventually leads to something close to panic.

Plus I’m a copywriter, so I’m professionally obliged to say brevity is next to Godliness.

Describe your writing process.

It pretty much follows an antithetical approach to the ideal: I don’t outline enough, I constantly edit as I go, and I have a horrible habit of breaking away from a piece for days at a time – a habit rooted, I think, in the fear of writing, of not writing well enough.  By the time I go back to it the impetus and confidence is gone, and then it’s just another half-baked story ready for the scrapheap.

Honestly, it’s a miracle I get anything finished at all.

What was the inspiration behind what was published on FewerThan500.com?

A prompt from a work colleague, with ‘Time’ as the theme.

What are you working on now?

A couple of things.  Obviously there’s that modern-day parlour piece called the novel: still little more than an idea that mixes pulp noir and magic.  There’s a bit of satire and polemic but basically it’s Harry Potter with more swearing and less knitwear.

The other is a short based on the annoyingly nebulous prompt of Free Will.  No chance of it being fewer than 500 words, safe to say…

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