Write Here, Write Now: Girl Wants a Cigarette by Sophia D'urso

In Season 2 of Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal Podcast, host Erica Wagner interviews winners of the Vocal+ Fiction Awards

By Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal PodcastPublished about a year ago 3 min read

A corporate team-building event is the unlikely setting for a compelling story; Sophia D'urso's sharp wit and close observation make "Girl Wants a Cigarette" into a memorably modern adventure.

What was the impetus for your winning story? Walk us through your initial act of creation.

There's something so funny and dumb about corporate team-building events—especially the Spaghetti Challenge. I remember doing one in middle school right after a TED Talk was released about it, and it's hilarious to me that companies occasionally have working adults do the same. There's a weird universality in how awkward it is to team up with people you don't really talk to and then have to work together on a timed challenge involving kids' art supplies.

What does it take for a story to grab you? How do you grab your audience?

For me, it's about the author's voice. Every author brings their own experience to a piece that shines through the narrative voice; maybe it's through their use of clinical language because they majored in Chemistry during undergrad, or maybe they use rich, sensorial descriptions because they've been watching a lot of Thomas Keller MasterClass videos during the pandemic and have since been honing their craft as an amateur chef. It's these random tidbits of niche knowledge that I find add texture to a piece, which grabs my attention and makes me want to keep reading.

Who are your favorite writers and why? Do you have any favorite Vocal Creators?

Shirley Jackson is a big favorite of mine! I'm obsessed with two pieces of hers in particular: "The Lottery" and "The Daemon Lover." She just does an incredible job of having an ostensibly normal setup and then turning the story into something incredibly unsettling. Then there's Toni Morrison—I often joke that the only textbook I ever bought during undergrad was actually *Beloved* for my First-Year Writing class (big fan of libraries!). Ocean Vuong's *On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous* is incredible in how he occasionally breaks from traditional prosaic form to include portions of poetry. And I also love Weike Wang's "Omakase," particularly how she seamlessly blends dialogue into the piece to create a layered narrative voice (I also am really thankful to her for helping me in writing "Girl Wants a Cigarette," which I wrote during a Fiction Writing course I took with her).

How has sharing your writing in life and on Vocal affected you as a Creator?

Honestly, sharing my work terrifies me. This was my first time sharing what I feel is an almost-complete work beyond my immediate family and a couple of friends. I'm my own harshest critic—I'll look at a sentence for ten, twenty minutes and truly despise how it reads but not know how to fix it, and then I won't want to share it because I know it can be better. But I've learned that that's what workshops are for! It's so helpful to have people constructively look over your work and say, "Hey, I see where you're going with this, maybe try this phrasing/idea/angle instead?" especially when you're stuck on the same sentence for what feels like years. And on top of that, sharing on Vocal to an audience beyond people that I already know has helped me be a little more open to the imperfections in my piece because it reminds me that writing is an ever-evolving craft.

What advice do you have for other Creators?

We all have things that we want to say and things that make us worthy storytellers. You'll never be strapped for content, even if you think it! You don't have to be an astronaut or have a pet monkey or anything like that to have a story worth telling. But in general, it's often the dissonance between the self and the world—moments in which we feel alienated—that tends to make really interesting stories. If you ever feel like you're out of ideas for stories, ask yourself: where did you feel out of place, and where did you feel like home?

Stay tuned for new episodes of Write Here, Write Now Season 2 launching weekly.

About the Creator

Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal Podcast

Sex, death, relationships, nature, families... If you like to stop, think and consider things a little differently, join host Erica Wagner as she introduces a new Vocal creator’s story each week.

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Comments (1)

  • Hafees Riyasabout a year ago

    nice useful

Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal PodcastWritten by Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal Podcast

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