Tuesday, March 2, 2010

short stack


I am a big fan of short fiction.

As a counselor at a creative writing summer camp, I taught a flash fiction elective I called the Daisy Duke. (Also 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and Candle Making with Leonard Cohen. What were these kids, 12? Geez.)

In college, I wrote a series of one page stories that as a collection won some sort of prize. Really, though, the titles were more memorable than the prose, most of which I no longer have anyway. Although I struggle more with naming stuff now than I used to, here's a short list of some ancient stories I pulled out of ye-olde file, just for fun:

Little Pig
Manuel Noriega, Manuel Noriega
Friends of the Devil
Girl in Love With Life
When Angels Fight With Poison Ivy
Yellow Popcorn, Yellow Bathrooms and Dreams of Wyoming
Southern Comfort
Invisible Witches and the History of My Name
God Made the Train Tracks When He Was Sleeping
An Exodus in Drowning
The Lips of a Loose Woman
The Whore You Could Never Afford
It's Surprisingly Sweet!
A Shotgun and a Bitch
An Exodus in Drowning
Intersection
Reunion
Shrinking
Royal Suburban Girl
Trash Fire
Mutiny
Deliver Me
Love is a Vehicle Like Any Other
The Land of Milk and Honey
Table of Contents
Pretty Little Head

Nowadays, I think these titles are more valuable, to me at least, than any sort of explanation or "story" that may have followed. That's why I am also a big fan of FaceBook status updates. How I love to write just ONE SENTENCE and feel as though I've accomplished something for the day. All that could possibly follow would be dull drudgery (read: writing my book).

In the same vein, last summer I was introduced to the concept of the "6 word memoir" by my friend Anne Soffee, who has written 2 actual memoirs. That are captivating from first word to last, thank God for her, me and everyone, but not every writer is so lucky to have that much good stuff to say. 6 word memoirs, first introduced by Smith Magazine, have made a HUGE splash and I can see why. They are pithy, fun and inject a sense of accomplishment without the accompanying sense of getting chased down, wrung out and hung up like longer prose seem to do.

So naturally I've introduced 6 word memoirs to a few of the creative writing classes I'm teaching to kids at local schools. And they are....AWESOME. From "I am getting an ugly hat" to "Blastoff! Blastoff! Blastoff! Getting boring" to "Get out of my face, dummy" to "Love is my fate, yours too" to "I represent America, and cheese pizza," I am proud of these kids, and a little jealous. They don't worry about whether or not their writing is publishable, or even good, really. They just squeeze out that fresh joy of what they want to say on the page. Ta-da! There I am, in sentence form: newly practiced cursive etched out in #2 on wide-rule paper. Me.

A lesson I will learn from them.

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