Flash fiction is, to me, a heart beating in your hands. I’m not talking about holding your hand over your chest and feeling its rhythm. I’m talking about the experience you’ll never have. Cupping your hands, cradling a beating heart. When I think of micro fiction, short short fiction or flash fiction, I think you’re approaching as a writer the heart of whatever it is you’re trying to convey and stealing it from its home, nestled all warm and comfortable, for a few brief moments out in the air to be examined. I’m in Minnesota, so maybe a better metaphor is a fish being caught and released. But this doesn’t resonate with me. I’ve only ever fished while on a field trip in eighth grade, and it didn’t do anything for me.
A heart is essential to life, and it needs to be protected. But it also needs a body to provide for.
I have a number of other projects (I recognize how pretentious I sound). I write on Substack, I have a newsletter out every other week, I write here once a week-ish, and I run a couple of groups for fun as well. I even have other stuff I’m attempting. It’s all experimental (like the cheesy light hearted stuff that I’m trying to use to keep me from being swallowed by this endless pit of winter), and it’s all serving a real purpose for me.
All of these things are my ribs. They provide structure, support, shielding. Space for the organs within.
And the more you write, the better you write. The more you read, the better you write. I hope.
I decided to stop waiting on myself some time in the last year. Jerry is a constant companion now. Every writing project serves as a rib, a protective element. The heart of all of this is the fiction I’m writing.
I was listening to an episode of the podcast The Shit No One Tells You About Writing in which the author Mark Greaney tells about how it took 15 years for him to write his first novel. He explained that over the course of those years, he spent a lot of time away from the manuscript, even writing three separate novellas in the time. From the show notes: “…putting your manuscript aside to work on something different so you can come back to it with fresh eyes; using every project as a learning experience…” In my case, I’m finding all these different ways to write as practice and process.
These ribs move and change and maybe they’ll grow, just like the beating mass inside them.
And everybody knows I love bones.