I was cleaning a winter’s worth of debris from the garden beneath my kitchen window, and as I scooped away a pile of withered leaves from between some stones, a garter snake slithered over my hand. It’s possible that I let out a little scream, despite knowing that I was the one who had invaded its space and not the other way around.
Flash fiction is versatile. It might not always be easy to write, but it’s certainly rewarding. Sometimes, it’s even fun. Best of all? You can use flash fiction to push the boundaries of your craft and end up with something surprising.
So step outside your comfort zone and into something new.
Luck and Uniqueness
Of course, this reaction is clichéd and smells like a set up, and it is, but that does not deny it a measure of validity. Neither does this example mean that the girl is even conscious of the connection between the painting, all the other mental associations she has in her brain between it and the day her father gave her that red bicycle, and then those connecting it to her father dying. She does not have to be conscious of her entire catalogue of mental associations and indeed, it would be unbelievable if she were.
My mother uses her fingernail to scratch Chinese characters into the palm of her hand. She does it, she says, so she won’t forget how to write.
When Chinese meet in the street and fail to understand each other’s speech, they too resort to palm-of-the-hand writing.
Continuing on with the example of our little girl and her bicycle but now twenty-some years in the future when she is a young woman in her mid-twenties recently graduated from her undergraduate studies and presently taking a year off to enjoy herself and think before deciding what to do for graduate school. During this time, she has taken a job as an assistant to an assistant at an art gallery, which while not paying very well, does at least somewhat satisfy her desire for an interesting workplace while she mulls her study options. Then one random day at work, she is helping to install a new exhibition of a young artist whose work is very heavily tilted towards the abstract.
The Formation of Concepts and Associations
This premise of association is extremely important for understanding how flash fiction works on a cognitive level because it is the knowledge and memories and, most importantly, the associations a person has in their brain that will form the tableau into which a piece of flash fiction will enter and start to work. To understand how this works, and to avoid the debate of empty or pre-loaded, a young girl of five will do the trick.
In the beginning
In the late Middle Ages, 1390s, European farmers started to keep track of weather patterns and soil conditions in an attempt to increase their crop yields. The rulers of the day, the Christian Church, supported this action, believing any such investigation would only result in the farmers finding God’s hand in action and thusly increase their faith in the Church.
Flash fiction is the belle of the ball, the flavour of the moment, the soup of the day and apparently well on its way to mainstream acceptance as a separate and unique form of writing. With so much attention coming flash fiction’s way, it made me think – did Juliette hit it on the head when she said what she said about roses or does that only apply to flowers?