Flash fiction, micro–fiction and mini sagas are all terms for the shortest of short stories. Within a limited number of words; 100, 150, 300 and 500 sometimes up to a 1,000 (although personally I call that a pretty standard, if low, word count for a short story) the writer must complete a story, not a poem, but a complete short fiction.
They have become very popular, partly because they are an easy to assemble collection for the self–publisher and a good way to get your work out in the public arena, also a quick read for any competition judge. They don’t take a daunting amount of time and have the added bonus of training the writer to be concise.
They are a form where the title does a lot of work. I have seen this described as the title doing the ‘heavy lifting.’ There are also plenty of competitions and e–zines to submit to. Below is a short fiction I wrote inspired by Cornelia Parker’s Thirty Pieces of Silver. Parker collected old silver plate and then ran a steamroller over them. Squished flat they became coin–like discs magically suspended from the ceiling and grouped as coins, this title is doing some heavy lifting in referencing Judas.
Like ill–fitting ball–gowns they lurk, the silver salvers and carriage clocks of commemoration.
Uncle Henry’s rose bowls, a relic of his ill–made match, have come to me.
It takes twenty–five roses to fill them and no one has ever sent me twenty-five roses. I haven’t waited to get divorced to dispose of them; they were car–booted on a damp Saturday. Snapped up by a buyer with his fiver and silver polish, no doubt, within weeks they will retire to the back of a cupboard to tarnish.
Family heirlooms, christening mugs and presentations, have no hiding place, minimalist décor having superseded showing off with fine candelabras and tea services. Crushed under the weight of inherited relics, self–service, is the new silver service. We carry so little of our past forward, steamrollering through life, making our presence felt with landfill.
Occasion Wear pub: Ink, Sweat and Tears ©Patricia Mullin 2005