What makes Figment Figment? Well, there are forums and blog posts and writing groups and featured books. But what really makes this place special are all of you Figs. So you should get some love.
Today, we’re introducing you to Peter LaBerge, a Connecticut-based Fig with an impressive resume. At seventeen, he’s already won several awards and even started his own literary journal. Although most of his work on Figment is poetry, he’s also written flash fiction and dramatic scripts.
Know a Fig who should be featured here? Tell us about him or her. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your recommendations. Interviews may be edited and condensed.
What motivated you to create The Adroit Journal?
I think it’s important to first note that I didn’t start writing until about two years ago, at the end of my freshman year of high school. While writing at that point was still very new, I definitely made an effort to pursue it. However, that is not to say that I suddenly became ‘really good’ at writing. In fact, throughout the following few months, I became rather ambitious, and thus frustrated. I faced an upsetting amount of rejection from some of the top publications. (I even submitted to the New Yorker!) I tried starting a literary journal to see if I might have better luck with that. Ironically, as I have read and evaluated more and more submissions—now with my staff of forty-six students from around the world—I have improved exponentially as a writer. With almost 2,500 submissions received, I definitely attribute most of my writing improvement to my experience reading and analyzing poetry and short fiction submitted to the journal.
You have an impressive amount of literary accomplishments already. What has meant the most to you?
If I were to choose one experience, I would probably say the comparison between the 2011 and 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. In 2011, I submitted one poetry collection, which won a regional Gold Key award. However, by the time the 2012 submission period rolled around, I was much less afraid of failure and decided to just submit my work, rather than worrying about whether it would win anything. I ended up winning a national Gold Medal for Poetry, a national Silver Medal for Flash Fiction, a regional Gold Key for Dramatic Script, and a regional Silver Key for Poetry. The difference between these two results really made me realize that, although there is still much to improve, I might just be moving in the right direction.
If you had to give your writing style an adjective, what would it be?
Almost all of my work (poetry, flash fiction, and dramatic script) involves some sort of reflection, although I very rarely write about my real life. Nonetheless, I’d say my writing style is reflective.
Which literary character are you most like and why?
I’m similar to the character of Lulu from At the Edge of Downtown by Susan Stein. Just as Lulu explores the world around her and is affected and intrigued by what she discovers, so I have found my own unique path influenced by my opportunities and accomplishments. Also, like Lulu, I am very much an individual, and I can be the tiniest bit stubborn (but only when appropriate!).
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Read as much of ‘your’ genre as you possibly can, enjoy it, mark it up, and think: What makes those moments work, and how can I make my own?