Sometimes I feel like chat speak diminishes the art of conversation by playing into people’s apathy and unwillingness to take the time to reach out to one another. It gives the excuse to not communicate with others on a level allows for retention and empathy by using as many words as necessary to achieve that end with no limitations imposed.
Is flash fiction doing the same thing to the art of the novelist?
Was there ever some perfect time in all of history that didn’t include some form of shorthand or “flash”?
*shrug*I don’t kno’. I just get the sense that we’re moving into an age where people don’t want to read and/or don’t have time. What’s more, they don’t really want to write and/or don’t have time to.
I don’t really view it as a compliment when I get a hearty physical and/or proverbial pat on the back for putting out “good” flash fic. To me, it means that people are content to read 200 words or less words from me but aren’t willing to embark on a longer, wordier, more heartfelt, and detailed journey in the form of a novel. It means that they are lazily uninterested in me as a writer, an artist, and a human being. I find this, needless to say, insulting and just unacceptable.
We live in the age of chat speak and rapidly advancing technology. People don’t even have to look each other in the face any more to sling virtually meaningless words around from one side of the computer screen to the next. Call me jaded or disillusioned but flash fic kinda worries me because it makes wonder if
- people actually read books for originality and spirit anymore
- any good books are actually being published given the kind of capitalist, dime a dozen, cookie-cutter mentality of the publishing industry
- people’s attention spans are just getting shorter
Flash fiction and it’s techniques, as I understand them, are very minimalist. The point of flash fiction is that it’s not the length of a novel and uses as few words as possible to convey a scene, a moment, a thought, an emotion, a plot, a story, people’s feelings, the situation. Flash fiction does these things all at the once, sometimes.
I believe we live in an age where people are trying to use flash fiction and flash fiction techniques to write novel length books. If 45% or more of the book is badly written filler crap, then what’s the point? Is popular flash fiction a detrimental product of the modern age?
Sometimes flash fiction can be the length of a short essay, I’ve actually never heard of anything longer though there is no determined length. And maybe that’s all you need. But the point is that it’s not and never will be the length of a book with this kind of minimalist approach. In the same way that canned condensed soup can still be delicious, it will never be the same as sitting down to the whole meal with rolls and beverages and deserts and such, and no added water necessary. I know that not every book is a good or engaging read for me.
Many flash fiction pieces wouldn’t survive if the writer tried to turn it into a book because flash fiction exists in a moment or two. It is not a journey, it usually consists of a fleeting instant or so. Some people like that kind of brevity. Personally, I need something a little more filling. I like literature that I can take some time with and enjoy and unfold, not something that I’ll be done with five seconds or five minutes later.
Writing for Romantic Friday Writers, 400 words maximum with a theme, every Friday, prose or verse, I’ve know that you can say plenty in 400-words. However, my beef with flash fiction is not an inability to meet the challenge or that I think that flash fiction is hard but it is rather a dislike for the minimalist nature of the art itself.
It really makes me feel terrible, as a writer, an artist, as a novelist, that the only thing I can get people to read is a dozen sentences, give or take. Because I can do more. I know I’m a talented writer, and I’m not trying to toot my horn by saying so. So why don’t people want to read and why aren’t publishers knocking down my door, I don’t know. There can be a lot of reasons for that.
As far as writing groups go, the trouble is that it’s hard to find dedicated, passionate writing groups where the art is the thing and not money or pretentiousness. Romantic Friday Writers is a flash fiction group, a pretty dedicated and consistent one, I’d say. But it’s still a flash fiction group with certain content expectations and guidelines.
When I’m sitting at my computer I can write whatever the hell I want without content expectations, word count limitations, and guidelines. And I really, really fucking enjoy that, with an almost sadomasochistic joy. What I enjoy more is people who are interested in the worlds I create and the people I get to know there and everything in between.
The only time I get to interact with other writers is when I am put in a bridle with blinders on. No me gusta.