Flash Fiction, Structure [Becoming a Student to the Art]

I worry a bit that I write in circles. That I write, and because I get very little sleep right now, M (6 month old) on his first ear ache and first round of antibiotics, I move through the same thoughts again and again. I have so many different topics that I want to post on, from an open condemnation of Bannon, to taking a hiatus from fiction by white folks, to a discussion on structure and short stories. And I worry that I keep saying the same thing rather than getting on to different topics. And I *know* that what I don’t need is to give myself more assignments; just trying to write an hour is enough. (also, beyond the limited time, I have limited concentration, and am, surprise! behind on work)

Even so, here is what I would to tackle:

–investigating structure, what makes certain pieces of writing compelling and others not. the idea, as I was taught it, is that there are hooks in writing; the moment where you want to keep reading. But what disturbs me is how that message is usually conveyed versus the reality of reading. In other words, the hook is generally posited as a question, something you want to know the answer to. In an essay, this could be a flat out question. In a story, it might be: will so-and-so murder his wife? will the prisoner get free? etc. And while this has become the standard way of teaching hooks, I’m not sure that it is really the reason we continue to read (or watch). I stop reading and watching things all the time, and if I am mildly curious, I google a plot synopsis. Actually, googling plot synopsis for movies is one of my mindless pasttimes, the kind of thing I do when I’ve really hit the end of how much more i can think in a day. What strikes me that the [real] reason we read/watch is because we like to be in the space the writer/producer created. Or, if this is not the primary reason, it’s certainly as important. (but now that I’ve said it, how terribly obvious. and how obtuse of me to even act as though this is a discovery)

–i’d like to tackle structure as a project. But I’d like to think deeply on it, blog about, really examine how and why approaches work or do not, how fiction is put together. And within this, use flash fiction to experiment. Most of the pieces I’d desperately like to write require much more space to develop all that I want to say. So flash fiction, then, can function for me as a place just to practice. Because flash fiction is so short, I can set up different practice goals and actually get them done, rather than trying to “practice” across 30-50 pages of a story.

–starting a list of different projects that is easily accessibly from my desktop that allows me to put down notes. Within this, I want to start actively brainstorming certain topics. So, for instance, what is it I want to accomplish in certain essays and stories? (ie, what is the purpose of an essay like “My Body, Her Pushcart”? What is the purpose? What segments/sections/stories will further it? what kind of structure would convey the message best?)


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