I'll admit, readily, that I am lousy at the long form, which is probably why I never hesitate to say, "No," when people ask me if I ever plan on writing a novel some day. I am also lousy at short stories too. For some reason, the novella just seems to be the perfect length for my style and particular writerly mindset. However, I have been doing a lot more sculpting lately, and my current manuscript revision progress has been slow at best. I've been extremely busy with a few massive initiatives at work, as well, and lately I have been going for days at a time without even looking at or even thinking about my novella Death Dreamt. This isn't a bad thing for me, and I don't feel guilty at all or label myself a lazy writer. My creative mind just doesn't like to be stuck in one process for too long. I know that, so I don't sweat it.
Anyway ... with all this going on, I do fear that my writing will go stagnant if I don't exercise my skills in that department on a regular basis, so I have begun experimenting with flash fiction. Why flash fiction you ask, since I admitted that I was lousy with the short story? Well, a few years ago, at the [bad] advice of one of my writer friends, I submitted a few short stories to an online ezine. They were running a brief contest/critique service to promote their site at the time. My stories were rejected, of course, because I am shitty at it, but the critique, albeit brief, was very helpful. They said my writing was excellent but that I had a tendency towards the abstract and that readers wouldn't necessarily "get it." I thought that was an odd comment, since most of the lit readers I know absolutely relish the abstract, but apparently abstract was not quite right for this particular ezine. No harm done. Cut to the present day, and I have been thinking a lot lately about what I could do to keep the writing feeling alive while I work on other projects, and flash came to mind.
It was just a combination of odd things that led me to that conclusion. I have a writer's block widget that generates 4-5 unrelated elements each time you click on it and throws them at you all willy nilly in order to stimulate your creative mind. Things like wooden shoes, a girl begging, a roulette wheel, scavengers, etc. So, I thought I would see if I could write a bit of flash each day using all of the unrelated elements provided to me. Now flash is anything generally under 1000 words, but I have been deliberately trying to keep it under 150. I know, it's a tall order, but some of the stuff I came up with over the past few weeks has gone over like gangbusters with my writers group and critique partners. So maybe, just maybe, I have a knack for flash. Who knows, but I am going to keep at it because I find it very stimulating and challenging. I might even try to submit some, even though I am just not into that whole submission/validation thing. Of course, this is why I am not posting any here today, but if you want to read some, I do share select pieces with my Facebook writer group for critique/commentary, so friend me over there. If I decide not to submit, I might consider doing a collection under my own imprint once I get enough of them. It feels a lot like writing poetry to me, and maybe that's what attracted me to it. The shit might actually suck, but I like writing it and it’s best to work with what moves you at any given moment.
So my writer and reader friends out there: How do you feel about flash fiction? Do you write it, do you read it, and are there any great flash sites out on the interwebz you just cannot live without? The morning coffee break is a perfect time to read a bit of flash.
Cheryl Anne Gardner
As for the sculpture, you can see I am in manic mode with the little birds. People just love them. The kitty is a new project. A friend asked me if I could make a cat. I had no plans to but said I would try, because if I could pull it off, he wanted me to make one for him and incorporate his beloved Rusty's ashes into the cement mix. I thought that was a brilliant idea and a wonderful way to memorialize a beloved pet, so that's the kitty prototype pictured. I know they aren't great works of artistic genius, but they are my whimsical creations, and I am having fun experimenting, which I think all creative people should do from time to time, whether it be with their writing or something else. I think experimentation gets the blood flowing to the extremities like nothing else can. If anyone wants a birdie, just shoot me an email; we can work out a friend price.
The art this week is The Liver is The Cock's Comb by Arshile Gorky, 1944, since I was feeling in a bit of an abstract mood.