Hello, all you rock ‘n’ rollers! The days and nights in Pittsburgh are getting cooler. Today the high will be 75 with a mix of clouds and sunshine and a 30% chance of rain. It’s still excellent weather for taking a walk down to the campus of the University of Pittsburgh and through Schenley Plaza. It’s still excellent weather for reflecting on creativity and the form of the flash fiction story.
I’ve given a lot of thought over the years to creativity and the form of flash fiction. I didn’t start to have any success as a writer until I discovered flash fiction and by success I mean publication and being paid for my writing. For me creativity, the form of flash fiction and “success” as a writer are all pieces of the same puzzle.
I remember sitting at my writing desk wherever my writing desk happened to be in those days (at the YMCA or in some one-room efficiency) and painstakingly outlining a story in pencil on one of those long, yellow legal pads. Then I would do one, two or three drafts of the same story in pencil until I had it just right. And then I would type it up on my portable type writer, take the finished typed story some place to have a copy made of it and then go through the process of snail mailing the copy and putting the original in a safe place. I would have two or three flash fiction stories in the mail to different publications at the same time.
And while I waited for an answer, I would read collections of flash fiction and study books on how to write flash fiction. Why did I go through all of this? Why was I so invested in flash fiction? Because after years of writing and getting nowhere as a novelist and a writer of regular-length short stories, flash fiction seemed my last hope of being a writer. I couldn’t give up on flash fiction because it would mean I would be giving up on myself. So I worked a lot of dead-end jobs (I wasn’t invested in the jobs) to keep body and soul together and I wrote flash fiction.
And then one day I went out to get the latest free edition of the local print news weekly I had sent one of my flash fiction stories to, you know, to study the publication. I distinctly remember walking down the street with my head in the paper (much like young people now a days do with their smart phones) and stopping dead (much like young people do now a days with their smart phones); because there was my story. That’s how I saw my first flash fiction story in print. It meant I was published. It meant I was going to get paid. And most importantly it meat I was a writer. The publication of my first flash fiction story meant I had been a writer all along…
Hail to Pitt!
This is Guy Hogan reporting for the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette. All photos of Rosie Danvers were sampled from Egotastic All Stars.
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