I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to spend some time learning about and writing flash fiction. I have written short fiction of various lengths over the years but never fully understood what it was or why. So, only one week into an on-line course, I'm trying out loads of new flashes and furiously reading both the theory and examples of the art and craft. I am so inspired and slowly beginning to get a real feel for it. After years of concentration on long narrative fiction, it's re-teaching me to strip a story to its bones, accentuating the key moments and layering meaning even when not actually writing it down (That's the hardest part.) It's also teaching me to use language more stringently and thoughtfully. Words always count but in flash fiction each one carries a much heavier weight. (And on a more pedestrian level, it's a great medium to mess about with , to fail, discard, try again and develop if things begin to work...
I still feel, although I may change, that my heart lies within the novel form with its capacity to extend characterisation and develop a satisfying plot. But taking time to be more concise, more spontaneous, more adventurous, more daring is a great exercise. It's challenging but I fully recommend it.
Before I got truly stuck into ithe task, I was mugging up on all things flash when I came upon National Flash Fiction Day 2012. Focusing on one day, it is a general celebration, with events all over the country. One day I was discussing my venture into flash fiction territory with Vanessa Gebbie, an avowed advocate of the art, I sent her an example of one of my short stories. She said nice things and suggested I cut 200 words and show it to the organiser of NFFD, Callum Kerr. And would you Adam and Eve it? Callum also liked it and it will be included in the 2012 Anthology of Flash Fiction to be published to celebrate the day. My 300 word story will sit alongside competition winners and commissioned stories from such luminaries as Ali Smith, Ian Rankin, Tania Hershman among others, including Vanessa herself You can find the list of contributors to the Anthology here.
Entitled Jawbreakers, it is edited by Callum Kerr and Valerie O'Riordan. I shall be buying a few copies when it is published. I hope you do, too. I'll post further details when available. Needless to say, I am thrilled at this exciting start to my new venture.