Story of a Flash Form Story
I am often asked how my stories and ideas come to me; how my imagination works in tandem to how I experience life. I believe imagination has the opportunity to be sparked by the small, everyday events we encounter and flash form writing can be the way we express these tiny vignettes. With the registration launch of my Into the Flash online course this week, I thought I’d write how real life influenced my flash form writing “The Last Thing They Might Have Seen” It was nominated for The Pushcart Prize, selected as Finalist for THE BEST SMALL FICTIONS 2015, and published by KYSO Flash.
Here’s the story of a flash form story:
Friends in Appalachia may recognize tendrils of this story when they read it. That’s because it’s the only story I’ve written that was quite literally inspired by a newspaper article and local information. I never read the newspaper article at the time–I didn’t subscribe, because I spent more time in a different county than the one that published the story–but local rumors filled my mind with sadness and wonder about the car accident. I never knew the men’s names involved in the car accident in Mitchell County–where I lived and worked at the time–and that fact always bothered me. Who were they? What brought them here? The hispanic community is so vital to where we live in the Blue Ridge and yet, sadly, these men were largely invisible when it came to trying to find any facts. Even in death, these men weren’t known. I hated that. I drove past the flowers on the road en route to work at Penland School of Crafts for so long, that I just couldn’t ever let it go.
Several years later, the story came out of me. I originally set it on Highway 226 but that felt too close, too personal–like invading something that wasn’t mine. So I moved it to the Ozarks. The idea for the mortician came to me when the first sentences of the story popped into my head while serving as Writer-in-Residence at Interlochen Arts Academy. The names of the men in the story, of course, are completely fabricated, as are all the details of their lives that I imagined. I’ll never know the “true” story. Once my story was published and nominated for The Pushcart Prize, I sought out the newspaper article that I knew must have been printed around the time of the accident. Sure enough, I found it, published May 30, 2007:
If you’re curious about flash fiction and how you can use real life to inform and influence your writing, you’ll love my Into the Flash course. It only runs in April and is a live 5-week course. The flash form serves as a training ground for slipping into the skins of your characters, mastering scene, celebrating compression, and uplifting metaphor. Spark your imagination and join us this April – Register now!