30 September 2011

“Foolish Mortals” to appear at Every Day Fiction

Some good news this morning: the popular and influential flash fiction site Every Day Fiction has purchased my story “Foolish Mortals.” The date that it will go up on the site hasn’t been announced yet, but it will either be in October or November. (The monthly Table of Contents are usually put up on the last day of the month, so if “Foolish Mortals” is going to appear in October, I should know by today.)

Update: It is now slated for October 19.

Every Day Fiction is run by Jordan Lapp, a Writers of the Future winner whom I got to know at this year’s workshop, where he helped out the new winners feel more at home around a pack of famous writers. Jordan is a great guy, and was very helpful in getting me to overcome the shyness I felt toward approaching legendary authors (some of whom I was reading in junior high school!) while at the workshop. I even mentioned him in my acceptance speech. So it’s a great privilege to be selected to appear in the online magazine that he founded and which has become one the top spots for flash fiction.

I should probably explain the term “flash fiction” for some of my readers who might be new to it. Flash fiction is the contemporary name for the “short short story,” a complete work of fiction that takes place over only a few pages. Although there is no set parameters for how long or short flash fiction has to be, the most common upper limit is a thousand words, with a lower limit of two hundred and fifty. However, I’ve read some flash that was only fifty words long. Every Day Fiction has no lower limit (unless you want to get technical and say a story must be more than zero words long) and an upper limit of a thousand. “Foolish Mortals” is just a few words under a thousand—even when writing short, I still tend to write long.

“Foolish Mortals” is the only flash fiction pieces I have written so far that I intended to try to sell. I’ve written innumerable short sketches that might be considered flash fiction, but “Foolish Mortals” was written and re-written with the aim to be a professional piece.

Here’s the strange thing about the story, and perhaps other writers can take something away from this: “Foolish Mortals” started life as a four thousand-word piece. I originally wrote it as a standard short story. But I did not like it, and thought about dropping it in the “retired” file. But after thinking about it, I realized that the reason it didn’t work was that it really wanted to be a flash fiction piece; there was a far more abstract but interesting story in the middle of a lot of “business.” So I laid the long version in front of me, opened up a word processing file, and started to write out the smaller tale that was within. The flash version ended up a better story, in fact a more descriptive story, than the one that was four times the length!

I’ll say only this much about the story, since it’s a fast read and you’ll soon be able to experience it yourself: it tells a fantasy tale about a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and stems from a warm personal memory I have about playing a part in the play when I was an eighth-grader. (I was Tom Snout the Tinker, a.k.a. The Wall, and I had a crazy crush on the seventh-grade girl who played Moth, one of Titania’s fairy attendants.)

The image above inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the work of the great Arthur Rackham, one of the finest of all fantasy illustrators.