Flash (an evening of fiction)

Flash (an evening of fiction)


This evening, I went to a Flash Fiction writing workshop at my local library. Flash Fiction is also called short short fiction, nanofiction, sudden fiction and microfiction. Basically, these are very short stories where every word counts and packs a punch. It is (in my opinion) about as close as prose gets to poetry. It can also fail miserably very easily.

It’s been a while since I’ve written to an assignment. It’s been a while since I’ve written in a group setting. It’s been a while.

Another added benefit of this class was getting to meet the instructor, the “other” writer who works for the library. We have been dancing around one another since I started (actually, people have been telling her that she needs to meet me as well, which makes me laugh).

I went, armed with my yellow pad, not really knowing what to expect. 

The last creative writing class I was a part of, was one I was teaching. It was strange to be on the other side. We started with six word stories.

No that was not a typo. 6 words.

She used the famous example by Hemingway: “For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”

I wrote a couple over the course of the evening. My favorite was: “Inciting a riot in stocking feet.”

I forced myself to read aloud. I forgot how hard it is to voluntarily share your work, in public, in front of other people with a voice that seems sort of pitchy and also either too loud or too soft if it is audible at all. It shakes too. Of course, no one notices any of this.

We moved on to two pieces of micro fiction (fiction that is less than 1500 words, often defined as 300 words or less). The idea was to take a look at the image our instructor put up on the powerpoint, then write something in the following 15 minutes using the image as a jumping off point. You didn’t have to write about the image per se, but it was supposed to be suggestive, to bring ideas to the surface.

It was fun. When I wasn’t analyzing the weirdness of being a student again and feeling what my workshop students must feel all the time, I really got into doing an exercise again, getting myself to devote an hour to being creative and learning about something new I’d not spent much time with. By the time we moved on to the second slide, I felt a bit more in my groove. I had warmed to Flash Fiction.

I read my piece from the first slide at the end and our instructor, my co-worker, gave me an approving nod. Never underestimate the praise of strangers. It keeps artists afloat. It’s been a while since I’ve shared a piece of fiction, this means the world when I do.

A good night. How wonderful to prime the pump and feel a little creative again.

If you’re in my area, you may be interested to know that the same seminar is happening again next Wednesday night, free of charge, at the Valley library. For more info, please contact me. I’ll respond in a flash.