When we started Book View Cafe, I decided it would be the perfect forum for something I’d wanted to do for years: Publishing a “flash fiction” — a short-short story — on a weekly basis.
It’s not that very short stories are all I write. I write at all lengths and am particularly fond of writing “short” stories that run on the long side. But some years ago I was in a writer’s group where we all decided to enter a contest for stories that came in at one page, double-spaced. None of us won — though all our stories were much better than the winner — and I was hooked on the challenge of telling a complete story in a minimum number of words.
I’ve been writing flash fiction sporadically ever since, and a lot of the stories found homes. But I kept fantasizing about doing a series of such stories online.
That’s probably because I’m a fan of Bruce Holland Rogers, who sends subscribers three short-short stories a month via email. Plus I’m always stumbling across artists who do painting-a-day projects. I wanted to be that kind of creative person. So when we started Book View Cafe, I took the plunge.
I just counted up the flash fiction I’ve posted since we started, and I’ve got 40 short-short stories available. And I’ve learned a lot, including that I can — when pressed by a deadline — turn out a damn good story in a very short period of time.
Of course, not all of the stories are new — I had a inventory when I started. And I have redefined my terms a bit. In the beginning, I defined a flash fiction as something under 1,000 words, but after awhile I found that a bit confining, and upped my limit to 2,000 words. I also branched out into a related genre — flash memoir. In fact, I’ve decided that short-short stories about my personal life are the best form of autobiography; they provide a few exciting high points, without burdening the reader with the dull facts of my ordinary life.
I plan to keep this project up for awhile longer: I’ve set myself a goal of 50 stories. But after that, it’s on to other things. And I don’t think I’m going to do it again. I’m in awe of Bruce, who has been doing his “short-short-short” project since 2002, and who has written so very many intense and thought-provoking (and even award-winning) flash fictions. But I don’t think I can keep up the pace and still write the other stories that are hammering away in my brain.
The Way of the Warrior blog series will return next week.
Check out The Nancy Jane Moore Bookshelf for more stories.