Today, 16th May, is the first ever National Flash-Fiction Day…
…and I’m very proud to be involved in the West Country’s contribution to the celebrations:
Kissing Frankenstein and Other Stories is an anthology of flash-fiction by writers from the West Country – and includes a story forged in the creative writing notebook of Yours Truly, Melanie at Bookish Nature! The anthology’s editor, Rachel Carter (who has done the most amazing job co-ordinating and putting the book together) gives a brilliant account of the journey towards the creation of Flash-Fiction South West on her blog, A Voice Released, which is brimming with a wonderful selection of flash-fiction and other writing treats.
Much time and thought was put into the project by Rachel and the Flash-Fiction South West team, gathering together submissions, reading, long-listing, short-listing, editing, designing, publishing etc… And the result is a great website (where you can read the stories and find out more) and the very handsome and stylish anthology, packed with an entertaining and thought provoking variety of micro-fiction, from six words to 1,000 words long (or short!)
What is flash-fiction?
Well… it’s rather slippery in its habits, when chased by attempts at definition – which is all part of its appeal…
From the introduction to Kissing Frankenstein and Other Stories:
‘A concentrated story.’
‘Like poison – effective in small doses.’
‘Maybe a cross between fiction and poetry?’
– a form ‘yet to be packaged up neatly into one definition with one set of rules.’
When I saw Rachel’s call for submissions on her blog, I was at a bit of a low writing wise, with so many projects left unfinished and interrupted by life events. I was just emerging from the other side of it all, getting myself back on track, and looking for ways to kick-start myself creatively again; and Rachel’s submissions call was exactly the spark I needed to tell myself to, “Go on – give it a go!” That night, I was amazed when the story suddenly came to me, ready written in my mind, as soon as my head touched the pillow…
Too tired to search for a notebook and pen, I drifted into sleep, repeating key phrases in my head in a desperate effort to retain them (I was convinced I’d forget the whole thing by morning). But, some sort of flash-fiction magic must have been at work, as I did manage to remember it – and the next day, out it flowed onto the page, mostly fully formed and very comfortable in its own skin (despite some later re-working and refining, it was adamant about the length it wanted to be and resisted morphing into any other shape.) In fact, I surprised myself by managing to turn in a story at only about 700 words long (usually, being over-verbose is my problem!) The story also told me it wanted to be called The Toll of Blue Sky Thinking, and all through the creative process, John Donne was winking at me from the corner of his poet-pulpit, telling me “No man is an island” over and over, to give me my theme…
Whether my Muse had suddenly jerked awake, full of a surfeit of creative dreams, or whether Awen, as Druids call it, was flowing – I don’t know; but it certainly felt like inspiration was writing it for me – and I’m hoping to hold onto that free, dive-in feeling – what the former Children’s Laureate, Michael Morpurgo describes as ‘entering the dreamtime’ – as much as I can in my creative writing from now on. I thought it was a mind-set I’d lost and would really have to struggle to regain, but I’ve found it again – and I’m very grateful to Rachel and the rest of the Flash-Fiction South West team – and to Calum Kerr, Director of NFFD and the original force behind the whole national flash-fiction celebration – for the opportunity to set it loose. It’s wonderful to be spreading my wings in that creative space again.
The Toll of Blue Sky Thinking was my first attempt at the flash-fiction form – but certainly won’t be my last (maybe, dear readers, I’ll subject you to more on this blog sometime… you’ve been warned!) Counter-intuitively, the smaller size and tighter word limits of flash-fiction revealed themselves to be, in some ways, more freeing than longer fiction forms can be – and was a wonderful, releasing exercise of thought-spillage. If you’ve never tried writing – or never read – flash-fiction, and would like to give it a go, there’s loads going on all over the internet.
In fact, to celebrate NFFD, there’s a veritable feast of writerly events taking place all over the country and online – all sorts to get involved in for both readers and writers… Head on over to the National Flash Fiction Day 2012 Website and the NFFD Facebook page to find out more…
Kissing Frankenstein and Other Stories can be previewed and ordered, at 30% off list price, at Lulu -and will be available to order from Amazon and as an e-book sometime in the future… (watch this space – and the Flash-Fiction South West website and facebook page for further news!)