Flash Recommendations: The Short Series

Short series

The Short Series are three anthologies that changed my understanding of what’s possible in creative nonfiction and flash form writing: In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal edited by Judith Kitchen andMary Paumier Jones, In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction edited by Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones, and Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction edited by Judith Kitchen.

When I say that, I’m basically saying these books changed my life as a writer, because while I could have spent decades writing traditional essays and exploring long form prose, the stories I most needed to tell about my own life–as it turned out–were best suited to flash form nonfiction. I just didn’t know it was possible, nor did I know there were so many ways to approach this fun, impactful, deeply moving approach to working with memoir content.

Sadly, Judith Kitchen died in recent years–though not before I was able to see her on a panel at AWP–and her printed words still offer much guidance. Stand alone or read together, the nonfiction short series “shorts” that Kitchen and Jones compile serve to show how “imagination becomes a way to explore reality,” (Judithkitchen.com). From the editors’ introduction to In Short: “We see the development of the Short as part of the wider cultural trend, and as one part – one fascinating part – of the experimentation in the burgeoning field of what is becoming called “creative nonfiction. We had been writing Shorts, using them in teaching and reading them for a long time before we begin to think of the Short as a form in itself. The idea for an anthology then followed quickly. Each of us already had favorite pieces and knew of writers we wanted to contact.”

If you think your life stories, brief memories, anecdotal life lessons, or family stories need to be logged and might be best suited to short form prose, I encourage you to study Kitchen’s work and to reach out to me about additional resources. My April, online Into the Flash course can help the seemingly insurmountable task of making a record your family members will want to read (and enjoy) feel accessible and empowering. With a little support, some solid craft teachings, and a lively community, it IS POSSIBLE to craft what you want to share with others. Never taken an online class before? Email me. I’ve got reference, tech help, tips, and a friendly approach to help make this possible. Let’s do this!

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