This morning “101 Words” published my piece of flash fiction “Gray All Over,” which you can read by clicking here. Normally I write this blog publication announcement on the topic of how whatever I’ve written came into being—whatever inspired it, some humorous associated anecdote, etc. I don’t really have much to say here though. “Gray All Over” was the easiest thing I’ve ever put to paper, er… the computer screen; I wrote it in a night, and I don’t how I thought of it. The story was NOT inspired by the new live-action Dumbo remake, though I did just see the trailer for it. So anyway, a happy coincidence.
What I will say is that I do really like “101 Words,” and not just because they previously published some of my work. Like “The Drabble,” which only publishes fiction under 100 words, “101 Words” has an all-important conceit: stories on the site must be exactly 101 words. I think that when I first heard about “flash fiction” ten years ago or so, I thought it was dumb. I didn’t get why anyone would try to write little ditties. It is, after all, a stretch to call anything I’ve written at 100 or 101 words a “story,” and it didn’t seem possible to me ten years ago to get much “meat” or emotion into the space of an average paragraph. Yet since, I’ve come around.
First, writing a really compact piece of fiction with a somewhat arbitrary length requirement is a GREAT exercise. I really believe working on drabbles and whatnot has made me a better writer. It’s like a haiku, where every word is of extreme importance, and I believe writing extremely short flash fiction has me a more careful writer. Second, I think you really can tell a story in 100 words, give or take. In my free time I love reading other people’s drabbles, and they make for very quick and fun breakfast entertainment. So anyway, those are my thoughts—in defense of brief flash fiction, if you will. I’m glad I came around, and if you haven’t read some flash, give it a try!
–Jeff and Leah