I met Patricia Lynne During the A to Z challenge, at her first post, which was all about her Wedding Day. Being 1st April, All Fools day, I didn’t believe her at first. But then, eventually, I did.
When I heard she was coming out with her book, Being Human, I wanted to host her on my blog, and she did stop by during her blog tour.
Today, she has asked me what hooked me to flash fiction, and why I love it so much. I’m going to do my best to answer both questions. Thank you Patricia, for having me here, and I hope I do justice to your invite.
My Journey: Writing Flash Fiction
Roughly three years ago, I did a creative writing course with Sharon Bakar, in Kuala lumpur, Malaysia. She suggested the book Fast Fiction: Creating Fiction in Five Minutes by Roberta Allen. I loved the exercises in the book, and since it neatly tied in with the concept of free-writing that Sharon had taught me, I began to write in five-minute bursts. I would take a prompt, a word, a picture, a sentence, anything at all, and start writing, pretty much without thinking. And hundreds of such exercises later, that is still the way I write, by dream-storming a word, or line or image.
Another book that influenced me, and from where I got the word dream-storming, is From Where you Dream by Robert Olen Butler. After reading through this book (several times), I got into the habit of entering a sort of trance, of letting the character take over, of entering a setting and becoming part of it. My stories (even the longer short stories) never start from an idea, but instead from an image which tugs at me and compels me to write.
I like letting myself go when I scribble. To find a playground for just such writing whimsies, I started Daily (w)rite, where apart from some journaling and rambling about writing, I began to put up some of the 5-minute or ten minute exercises I had written. I got a few good response from my readers, and kept at it, mostly because i enjoyed it.
Then came A to Z Challenge, which involved blogging on 26 days of April, based on 26 letters of the alphabet. Being naive, (and incredibly stupid), I thought of writing one flash piece each day. I guess another way to put this is that I like a challenge. On some days, the pieces came easy, on other days I barely made the midnight deadline. To make it even more challenging, I asked readers to drop me prompts, and when they obliged, I me, I chose words from there.
Near the end of the A to Z challenge, some of the readers asked me to compile the 26 pieces of flash fiction into an e-book, and the idea of A to Z stories of Life and Death was born. I threw out and re-wrote a few of the original pieces, I took advice from beta readers and tossed out some more. I spit and polished them as best as I could. Not many stories in the collection are longer than 200 words, and the entire book adds up to barely 12000 words. My hope is that I’ve made each one of them count.
Now that the book is done, and people read it and tell me they like my work, it is a pleasure. But if I'm to be honest, there was equal pleasure in writing these pieces of flash fiction. Because I wrote each piece in a rush of adrenalin, with a beating heart. Some I wrote with tears in my eyes.
I believe that a story decides its length, and this is most true of flash fiction. In a short span of time, a flash piece tells us an entire story, or at least gives us a glimpse that lets us divine the rest.
Today, I still have a long way to go with flash fiction---I hope to one day write flash pieces that would challenge and entertain just as much as any novel.
Have you ever written flash fiction? What has been your experience writing in this category?
Damyanti lives more in her head than in this world, adores her husband, and loves her pet fish and plants. She is an established writer for magazines and journals. Her short fiction has been published in the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Muse India and in print anthologies by Marshall Cavendish, Monsoon Books, and MPH publications.