The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Yes, Virginia... even flash writers are writers

1- You get the thrills that go along with completing a story real quick. Gosh, that sentence I just wrote sounds terrible. Lemme try again! The thrill of completing a masterpiece of fiction, a work of art, however minute, and however disillusioned you are in thinking it is a masterpiece in the first place, well, that thrill comes fast and furious. It’s like thinking you’re going to get some, and then actually getting some, all in one night. Your hair was good, your shirt was smart, the collar razor sharp, the jeans you wore, as with your briefs, were newish and snug-fitting, and you still smelled good when it counted, so everything gelled. It was effortless. Z-bang! Hello!

2- You can work on several pieces at once! A couple are in the reread stage, because you’re sensitive and artful as a person, and what person such as this wouldn’t feel the doubts creep in after a few rejects. Still a couple others are in the brutish, I can’t believe I wrote this crap with incredible potential, stage. You glance at these brutes from afar whenever you open Word, subconsciously shuffling and reordering in terms of their readiness, or your readiness to jump in. Speak to me! Pick me! You got nothing better to do, anyway. Or it just appears before you like the card only you saw but the magician was still able to make rise out of the deck. And every once in a while, you get a piece that begs for more even though it’s had enough attention already. 1500 words? 2500 words? A novel? No. 1500 words.

3- The strain is definitely lite. Come on, you flash writers, especially those of you who’ve attempted a novel. You know what I mean… And why is it that those writers fully ensnared by the lure of flash writing tend to jump from flash to novel and not the lovely 5000 worder all the major magazines seem to prefer? What’s up with that? Remember those 25, double spaced page wonders you slaved over before you discovered flash? Three months to get a decent first draft. Another three months to get a decent rewrite. Six months waiting for the first reject crammed into your mailbox. Three months for a second decent rewrite. Another six months to a year(because this rewrite wasn’t half bad) only to have your envelope stuffed back into your mailbox. Like I said, flash writing is stress-lite. That’s a plus!

4- A lot of times, you don’t have to come up with names for your characters others will be embarrassed by, like Elizabeth or Kate, Chad, and the perennial favourite -- Elizabeth Chadwick. You can name them he or she or they or it if you want. Stress is bad.

5- If you write flash, you can always say to a potential reader, “but it’s only one page.” Try getting a civilian to read three successive rewrites of the same story you couldn’t staple together with just one staple, you had to pound at least three in there, one from the backside, just to keep the pages together. Impossible.

6- You get good with titles – you have so much practise. The Chair. The Doorknob. The Dresser(one of my actual titles). The Belly up Goldfish you Bought with the Christmas Money from Grandma. Whatever you like. It’s flash, where titles can hang in the air if you like.

7- Best of all, you get to call yourself a writer! These days, hardly anyone ever asks just what kind of writer you are, actually -- Have you written a novel yet? They won’t ask, and you know why, because flash has come onto its own, and flash writers are feeling a surge of confidence, finally. Yes, Virginia, even flash writers are writers.

(stay tuned. I should have a nice interview ready and posted of some flash writers who actually know what they're talking about... soon.)


Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Well, I like writing flash ficiton, but then I don't know what to do with it! I have tons clogging up my computer. I stopped writing it and went back to short stories which I can at least publish and make some money. However small the amount it feels good to get it.

What did happen to me however was that the time I spent working on flash fiction has changed the way I write I short stories. For the better, I think. Or at least, enriched my palette. So I don't regret it.

Thu Dec 11, 01:04:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tania Hershman said...

Oh yeah, Tony, I know just what you're talking about! This, this, this is why I am only writing flash right now - 1500 words? Try 500, and that's a lengthy one. No names, just he, she, or even I and you (love that right now). All my 90 or so flash stories winking up at me saying, Send me out next, send me! And when one doesn't make it, no worries, there are another 89, in various stages of I-Love-This-One-Best. Flash is fab. Strain Lite. Excellent. Great post.

Sat Dec 13, 03:57:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Ha! Thanks, Tania and Andrew. Flash is a drug, that's for sure. Keeps you in the present. Whether that's good or bad for your career as a writer, is up to you to figure out. You know, there are writers who actually work on one story at a time! They don't have the hundred credits we flash writers might have, but damn if they aren't of the weighty variety. How many ezine credits would you trade for a Crazyhorse, or a Prism? Just a question.

Sun Dec 14, 10:07:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Thanks for the enlightenment, Tony. I've never been good at flash and I so admire those of you who are. I can see the attraction and the challenge. I suppose that if you're really into it, you walk around seeing dozens of stories in various happenings throughout the day.

Thu Dec 18, 01:29:00 am GMT-5  

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