I recently read this wonderful interview with author David Swann, and his definition of flash fiction:
“it helps to remember the word ‘flash’ itself – a novel’s like a set of floodlights, shining down for the whole match. But in a flash you’ve arrived late for the match and the stadium’s in total darkness, and you’ve got a few seconds of light left in your torch, so where are you going to shine it, and how will you find your seat? And what will you see there in that flash-bulb moment? And how the hell are you supposed to manage to eat a hot dog at the same time?”
I’m a fan of the genre, but as Swann says, it is a difficult one to read: it’s brevity gives the illusion of ease, but in fact, each piece is an entry into a different world, and you need to stay alert as a reader:
Because flash requires a lot of attention, just as poetry does (and other short fiction). That’s partly because it’s compressed, so you have to be on the alert (the German word for poetry is ‘dichtung’ – to seal, or to shut… so there’s a suggestion of closing down the space, and being economical). And, as a reader, you have to keep starting again with every new piece of flash, so there’s a lot of energy required. You can’t just fall into the dream. The challenge for the writer is to make the compression invisible, to try to hide the hard work.
I knew I liked the medium, but didn’t know I could actually get somewhere with it. I’ve been full of doubts about my writing lately, so the judge’s words were very encouraging:
‘Picasso Dreams’ is a kind of conceit about the nature of imagination. The brisk, clean prose is somewhat at odds with the subject-matter, and this creates an interesting sense of dissonance. It’s visual too, with the dreamscape enlivened by flashes of blue and lime green. An imaginative, original story.
The story started from this Daily (w)rite, in writing about fish, so that’s another thing I have to thank this blog for. Out of a 1000 entries to the Bath Flash Fiction Award, 50 were longlisted, 20 were shortlisted. 3 winners and 2 judge’s commendations were chosen from the shortlist. I’m kind of gobsmacked that mine was 5th out of a 1000 entries!
What about you? Do you like reading or writing flash fiction? Did you read Picasso Dreams? What did you think it was about?
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