Very brief. Flash excursions, in fact…
Because yes: after more than a year, I’m still tinkering away with flash fiction. Or perhaps, more accurately, I’m still struggling with it. I want to write flash fiction. I want to do it well. I try again and again (although perhaps not quite as much as I should), and still find my work wanting. And so I tinker on, and read flashes, and read craft books, and take courses, and try again, and spring my attempts on innocent readers.
Until one of those innocent readers up and asks what’s with the obsession.
“Hardly an obsession,” I say – and the Innocent Reader snorts, because, as I said, it’s been more than a year, and… well.
“Call it what you like. What’s with it?”
And my answer is, it’s because I find it hard. I find it hard, so I keep chipping away, and I’m not prepared yet to accept that it might not be quite my cup of tea. After all, I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of tiny stories – long before I even knew they were their own genre. And after all I love the sudden quality of it. And after all, I hanker after the precise vividness it requires. And after all, I’ve been known to write the odd decent flash, on occasion – so perhaps I’m not entirely hopeless at it, and it’s just a matter of trying harder…
And then, as I was trying harder, I came across Tom O’Brien, this remarkable British author of flash fiction, and his course on Skillshare. And in the course, at one point, Tom comments on how flash fiction lends itself to all sorts of experiments. You can try anything, he says, without fear. After all, you are not committing to it for any great length, and even the most outlandish experiment rather ceases to be daunting when you know it will be done within less than a thousand words. And brevity doesn’t make the writing itself easier – quite the contrary, most of the time. It’s just easier to venture out when you know that you’ll be back home well before tea time.
Well, it was a small epiphany. Because another thing I’ve been struggling with is to get out of my comfort zone, and I periodically whine about being far too timid when it comes to stepping out – so very timid that so far I’ve ventured very little even when it comes to flash fiction.
But perhaps… well, perhaps now that I know, I can do it more, and more deliberately. Take a little foray, now and then, into unfamiliar territory? Even, perhaps, more than just “now and then”?
So you see, Innocent Reader: it was all true, what I said about finding it hard, and the precision, and the tininess… All true – but it seems there is something else too. Something I didn’t even know I was trying to do, but I most definitely need…
Brief excursions out of the comfort zone.