I spent much of the early autumn putting together a substantial creative work for my MA, which consisted of short stories and flash fiction. This, and other things going on in my own little world of writing have made me think more about the short form, which has provided a nice contrast to the long haul of writing a novel.
A workshop in Bridport with the very inspiring David Swann, judge of this year’s Bridport Prize for flash fiction and senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of Chichester, has given me new insights. From a moment in time to an entire life in a matter of a few hundred words, it’s a truly versatile form.
I’ve been reading Deborah Levy’s Things I Don’t Want to Know, a personal response to George Orwell’s 1946 essay Why I Write. I love Levy’s eloquent prose and I’m a sucker for neat packaging. So this one’s a winner, beautifully bound in a slim blue hardback. You can read Kate Kellaway’s review of it here, and click on the image for purchasing info.
The Short Story
It’s not just the essay that’s enticing. Nightjar Press publish single short story limited-edition chapbooks, edited and published by Nicholas Royle and designed by John Oakey. (Incidentally, I consider myself lucky to have had the benefit of Nicholas Royle’s expertise over the past two years, in his role as senior lecturer in creative writing at the Manchester Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University, through which I am studying my MA). I recently got my hands on Into the Penny Arcade by Claire Massey: great writing all wrapped up in a classy design. There are several titles available so grab these chapbooks while you can …
In the week Alice Munro won the Nobel prize in literature, short story writer Sarah Hall called for a short story laureate in The Guardian. In her piece, Hall talks of the short story as being “a bastard to write” and concludes that “the form dictates its own exclusivity”. Having wrestled with the short story somewhat this year (one of my rudderless attempts went through numerous drafts before I decided to shelve it for the foreseeable future), I’d certainly agree with those statements.