For years, I thought I was only friends with flash fiction rather like the protagonists in the film, When Harry Met Sally. I liked short stories of whatever length, but there was no grand passion. Sudden-Fiction the anthology edited by Robert Shapard and published in 1983, was on my bookshelves and contained several of my favourite writers – Raymond Carver, Grace Paley and ones new to me then, like Lydia Davis. Once in a while, I enjoyed reading a story from the anthology.
My interest grew stronger in 2005/6 when The Guardian Newspaper published short shorts by Dave Eggers every week. I even tried writing a couple. But it was in late 2012 at a workshop with Tania Hershman we organised at Writing Events Bath, that the attraction grew. Tania showed us several different examples of the form and included some great exercises during an action-packed two hours. I was writing a novel for the Bath Spa MA in Creative Writing that year, but in the workshop I really liked being able to complete something succinct that could still be meaningful.
Falling in love
So when did I fall in love big time? When I wrote a piece in the last hour before the Fish Flash Fiction Prize ended in February 2014 and received an Honourable Mention when the results were announced. Mutual admiration always does the trick in matters of the heart! It was wonderful.
Launching the inaugural Flash Fiction contest earlier this year has only made more more entranced. It’s always been a habit of mine to begin new projects that force me to learn more about the subject. Years ago, before I became a Gestalt Psychotherapist, I was an Assertiveness Trainer and a very successful one. But although I could handle a group session, I wasn’t very assertive myself – not for a long time. With flash fiction, the more stories I read and the more I write, the more fascinated I’ve become and I’m certainly getting better at writing the short form.
Now in November 2015, a month since the launch of the second Bath Flash Fiction Award, I’m completely besotted with flash fiction. I was so excited about the standard of the winning, shortlisted and longlisted entries in the first competition. I frequently return to read those stories and enjoy the different ways they are written.
While the first Bath Flash competition was going on, I made a point of submitting to other competitions myself. As a result of my efforts, I was one of ten winners in the National Flash Fiction Day Micro Contest, was shortlisted in other prizes including the Fish Flash Fiction Prize, published on Visual Verse and recently received a Highly Commended in the Inktears Flash Fiction Prize. These successes and an online course last month with the well-known American writer of flash fiction Kathy Fish (to be highly recommended) has left me starry eyed.
The acknowledgement for my successes from the twitter crowd who write very short fiction has been amazing. It’s been a real boost to be retweeted or favourited by other writers I admire. How can you not be in love with that amount of support for your work?
So what comes after being besotted? Hopefully, not a crash into normality. Flash fiction requires passion and commitment. That’s what to do – write every day, read more short stories, branch out into submitting stories for magazines as well as competitions. Have an on-going relationhship that refuses to become stale.
Some people look worried when I tell them I’ve abandoned the novel I was attempting to finish for several years. A waste? No. I can say with absolute conviction that I’m no longer interested. If they want to meet my new love, Flash Fiction, they’re very welcome.