10th October 2012
Unfortunately my first lecture was cancelled as the tutor was unwell, but the second one ran brilliantly. Menna took the lecture on short stories and when I say short I really mean short… We started with six word stories, something I didn’t know existed. Ernest Hemingway wrote one, and said it was the best story he ever created:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
This link will take you to some others written by authors for the Guardian… Not to be left out our group had a go and this is my attempt:
Scissors, pins, fabric, stuffing: homemade friend.
Kitten lost then found, companion cat.
Encrusted paintbrush created a loving portrait.
Of these I like the first and the last, I think they suggest a story; they describe something being done and the result. The middle one is more cryptic but I was trying to create the entire life of a cat in just six words, I don’t think I succeeded but it was good fun.
My dyslexia did kick in by the end of the lecture and my notes are sparse, luckily I did understand the concepts of short stories, the different types, from the six worded to the 101 word to the prose poem and finally to the more traditional short story. There’s also flash fiction… A form that I’d seen in many competitions but not truly understood until the other night.
But I like the last thing that Menna said – that Grace Paley had once explained that sometimes she so loved her characters in the short stories that she wished she could give them one more day. I agree, some of the characters I create I wish I could write a longer piece about, perhaps even have them star in a novel… If the prospect of writing anything that big didn’t scare the nasties out of me. But if you think of novels and long stories as solid pieces of work then, as Carol Shields says, short stories dance over the tale.