by Glenn Shaheen
In class I assign the students a paper on Roman Polanski’s Macbeth. One student comments on the swordfights in the movie. She observes that they were slow and clunky in the armor, whereas she expected them to be fast and graceful like in Pirates Of The Caribbean. She doesn’t know which is the way it is in reality. My girlfriend wants to go to the museum tonight, but I am tired. I still agree to go with her. Later we read on our separate sides of the bed and kiss each other goodnight on the cheek. We are in the most love we can imagine. She has one pile of dirty laundry and I have another. I cook eggs well. She bakes pancakes. People are astonished when we say that we are dating. For our anniversary we bought each other the same DVD box set we had each been secretly hoping for. It was one of those hilarious things we told everybody again and again. It was MGM’s greatest romances. We returned the copy I bought and bought Universal’s classic monsters collection. Strangely, those movies ended up also being about love in their own way. The loss. The recovery. The pull on the inside veins.
For me, flash fiction is about a very specific moment, both in the instance of its genesis and the locus of the story itself. That is, even if a story might take place over years, because you are working with such a small number of words as writer, the ability to move the reader usually boils down to one particular moment in the piece. The moment the gear shift gets stuck, the moment the words come out all wrong, etc. For the creation of the piece, it’s also about a particular moment. It’s tough for me to write a piece and then go back and recapture whatever energy was there at first. That said, I think revision is flash fiction’s silver bullet. It can kill it with one shot. When I write something and it doesn’t end up working, I just scrap it and try to reuse any good lines. Just forget about revision. My method is probably not sound, if there even is a method.
Glenn Shaheen is a graduate of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. He lives in Texas and co edits the journal NANO Fiction. His work has appeared in Subtropics, /nor, The Laurel Review, and others.