Friday, November 26, 2010

Flash fiction

I subbed a creative writing class last night and focused on gratitude. We did a warm-up of a thank you note that they'd never written; one talked of her children; one chose a friend who gave her a ratty copy of Sylvia Plath's poetry; one wrote a lovely and touching letter to Santa, beginning with annoyance and ending with watching his child sleep on Christmas Eve.

We then moved on to flash fiction. I'd chosen some of Dave Eggers' short fiction from The Guardian (all with a reference to gratitude) and we had a really good discussion - I love hearing how various people interpret fiction. Especially when it's flash fiction (all stories were under 500 words) - every word counts, so why did Dave use these words? Why did he repeat those words? Did he actually tell a complete story in 500 words?

I admire any adults who jump into a creative writing course. It doesn't matter that only a few have the ambition to be published; others write for themselves, for their families, and for their posterity. A class from various countries and of various ages are equals for two short hours every week, and their responses to the same prompt are enlightening.

Their homework is to write a piece of flash fiction where they either tell the person thank you, or meditate on the word 'gratitude'. But more important than their homework was to embrace the idea that short fiction is worthy and is an excellent way to keep the writing skills sharp when time is a problem.

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