I’m home sick from work so my automatic go-to is to settle into the couch and watch cooking shows. What I did when I was sick in the days before food network television is all a blur. As a vegetarian, one might think I wouldn’t be interested in watching celebrity chefs slap around meat and spices and discuss how delicious it is (hint: I’ll never know), but the truth is I like the small, compact segments that give me a start to finish in under 30 minutes.
As a writer, that same principle applies to the recent trend for many readers and writers alike: the creation and absorption of bite-size stories in the form of flash fiction. Writing flash fiction is a lot like cooking. You do it in one burst with the thoughts/ingredients you have in front of you, work on it until it’s done, and come away with a singular, easily digestible creation.
The fun of writing flash fiction is to see how complete a story can be created with the fewest words possible. My writing group has a fun flash fiction challenge every February, where we always produce more submissions than any other month of the year. There’s just something so do-able about writing a story in under 1000 words. That’s the beauty of it: beginning, middle, and end in under 1000 words. It’s the joy of being done and actually having something to show for it.
The biggest challenge of being a writer is how long it takes to just be done. As someone who was stuck for six weeks on page 113 of an approximately 285 page first draft, I loved turning to the medium of flash fiction to get a moment of closure in the middle of the madness that is novel writing.
Now I just need to find the time to cook something.