“The Earth? We ate it yesterday.”
Flash fiction, micro fiction, very very short stories. You don’t always need a lot of words to tell one whole big story. Hemmingway claimed his best was written in just six words. For me, it’s Yann Martel’s attempt at the same intense, suggestive compression.
Let’s Get Flashy.
Last Wednesday heralded the first ever National Flash Fiction, with events from Manchester to London to Southamption to Abergavenny.
In Edinburgh, Inky collaborated with the mighty Underword to deliver a day intense in writing. Upstairs in the Bongo Club, over tea and a considerable quantity of quiche, nine writers went through a series of workshopping, exercises and prittsticking to produce the best of DIY printing in a zine chockfull of spanking new flash fiction pieces.
David Gaffney, writing in The Guardian about flash fiction, noted how
‘There’s a lot to learn from authors who’ve mastered this ultra-short form…Precision, efficiency, economy of language. Really good flash has a kind of formal and emotional exactness. It’s a beautiful enigma. A micro story is a nippy little thing that can park on a sixpence and accelerate away quickly.’
The precision and craft that Gaffney is talking about is something that happens over time, polishing and paring down through a number of drafts. We were working quickly, on imagination and bringing up new ideas and prompts through juxtaposition of character and occupation, plot, action and change.
GameshowChangelingRucksackedPinkieUmbilicalSunburnCrackpotAntibody. Antibody. Antibody.
We also needed to come up with a theme for the zine, conjuring up a wall’s worth of random words before eliminating those that didn’t spark ideas and finally settling on ‘antibody’, for the potential of both literal and less obvious meanings. Images of disease and resistance led to the title ‘Quarantine’.
Two hours of writing, cutting, pasting and photocopying later.
And there you have it.
Available at an Inky Fingers event near you.
‘Milkfed’ by Kirsty Logan.
Milk stops the baby crying, she has found. But a human breast is only so big, and the crying is loud enough to burst eardrums. One morning, she wrings herself inside-out to fill the child’s bottomless maw, until silence settles on thehouse.
She tiptoes to the PC. Googles ‘dairy cows.’
She already has grass and a bucket. The low vibrations of the moos will be music after the baby’s screaming. Perhaps she can construct a raised cradle, a stall for the animal’s legs, so the child can stay safely plugged in.
From upstairs come the whimpers that precede the onslaught. She clicks ‘BUY’.