I don’t mean I quit writing. Or quit Book View Cafe. Or even quit blogging.
But I quit publishing a weekly flash fiction. Today I put up story number 50. It seems like a good stopping place. I’ve learned a lot from this project. I can, it turns out, write fiction on a tight deadline. A couple of the stories were started and finished on a Wednesday, so they could be up by 1 AM on Thursday. And the work reminded me of something I already knew, but hadn’t thought about much lately: the length of the story is no guide to the amount of work required for it.
Some of these stories came very easily. I just sat down and wrote, and they were almost perfect — just a little editing required. Others took hours of struggle and — when I had time — pleas for critiques from my writer friends.
But one of the main things I learned was that writing a lot of flash fiction — about half these stories are completely new and many of the older ones required a lot of revision — kept me from writing other things. I’ve got a head full of long ideas right now, and I need to devote time to those right now. Since I also have a day job, there are only so many hours a week for fiction.
I’ve got to say, doing this for a year made me respect Bruce Holland Rogers all the more: He’s been turning out three short-shorts a month for email subscribers since 2002. And they’re wonderful stories — I’m a subscriber. But even he has taken a three-month break to finish a novel.
So I quit. But, damn, it’s been fun.
I got to post the story that started it all, my very first flash fiction: “St. George and the Dragon.” Though this version is longer than the original, which came in under 250 words.
And — after I decided to revise my upper limit to 2,000 words (Bruce sets his at 2,500) — I got to post my homage to the 42 Bus in Washington, D.C., a story I have always loved but never found a home for.
The press of time drove me to post the only successful poem I’ve ever written — “Resilience” — and to “cheat” by posting several pieces I call “flash memoir,” including “Spinster,” which I originally developed for an oral storytelling project.
While writing some of the brand new ones was scary, I have to say I’m really happy with how they turned out. A few of them have become personal favorites. (Is it as terrible for a writer to say that she has favorites among her stories as it is for parents to say that about their children? Oh, well.)
I’m particularly fond of “Quiz,” which was inspired by a newspaper article that suggested reading works in which the impossible happens is good for the brain. (They mentioned Kafka, but obviously fantasy readers know how to find lots of stories like that.)
And I also really like “The Dog at the End of the World,” in which I ended up somewhere rather creepy just because I wanted to write a story that began “I have a dog.”
And then there’s — but really, I can’t list all fifty. It takes too long to make those links. Anyway, an author is rarely the best judge of which of her stories are the best. Here’s the page listing all fifty. Go check them out. It won’t take long — they’re all short!
But don’t take too long. These stories won’t be available for free on Book View Cafe forever.
BTW, even though I’m not going to post any new stories for awhile, I’ll be back each Thursday with “Way of the Warrior” blogposts.
Nancy Jane’s flash fiction for this week — the last one in the series — is “An Oral History of Ceres: Lyda Gambon.” Her collection Conscientious Inconsistencies is available from PS Publishing and her novella Changeling can be ordered from Aqueduct Press.
Check out The Nancy Jane Moore Bookshelf for more stories.