self-indulgent observation about writing flash fiction
It’s about this time, after the warm glow of publishing another collection of stories that nobody will ever read begins to fade, that I usually fall into a “what the fuck am I doing squandering my limited time on Earth?” malaise.
This book is no different. While I’m proud of the stories included in it, I’m proud in the way a parent is proud of their C student. They see something in them that nobody else does.
Ten years, twelve books and literally thousands of stories… and for what?
And then it hits me; why not?
What else have I got to do with my limited time on Earth?
And every now and then I enjoy something I’ve created.
Perhaps enjoy isn’t the right word.
And created is definitely not the right word (allowed to escape… i.e. a fart isn’t technically ‘created’… unless you consider the initial decision to have tacos… which makes this a much deeper observation than intended)?
But you understand what I mean.
Let’s take the recent story ‘the Tralfamadorian’. Having recently taken part in my first dead pool, I wanted to write about the mixed feelings it brought up inside me.
So I did what I always do, I came up with a thin premise for a story and then sat down to see where it would lead.
It led me, quite by accident, to Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
It’s that kind accident that I count on to make it all worthwhile. All the time, effort and angst. When the story is done I can sit back and read it and then figure out what it means. Then I read it again and realize there are a dozen other stories that could come out of it. A hundred directions it could go. A hundred different endings.
Some beautiful. Some poignant. Some stupid.
Just like life.
And that’s why I think some people enjoy reading flash fiction.
(Perhaps enjoy isn’t the right word.)
(You’re worried I’m going to insert another fart analogy aren’t you?)
It’s a catalyst to take you wherever you want it to go. Or in some cases, where you need it to go.
To make it meaningful.
To have it resonate in a way that only you can identify with.
I start it and you finish it.
The first domino falling…
Of course, it’s always dangerous to bring in a literary giant like Vonnegut. It’s like a bar band asking that Bob Dylan join them on the stage.
Luckily, Kurt is dead so he can’t say no.
Am I just using his powerful prose to prop up an otherwise-ordinary story?
Of course I am.
That’s the best part of knowing that nobody is reading it anyway.
Except you of course. 🙂
“When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”
– The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
or another take on it…
All art is a work in progress. It’s helpful to see the piece we’re working on as an experiment. One in which we can’t predict the outcome. Whatever the result, we will receive useful information that will benefit the next experiment. If you start from the position that there is no right or wrong, no good or bad, and creativity is just free play with no rules, it’s easier to submerge yourself joyfully in the process of making things.