Grackle painting by Laurie Lusk
“My mother asks on the phone how our drive home was, and I say ‘Fine,’ which is not the truth but a fiction. You can’t tell everyone the truth all the time, and you certainly can’t tell anyone the whole truth, ever, because it would take too long.” —“Our Trip” by Lydia Davis
Flash fiction, or the short short story, is an inherently contradictory genre. A story implies length—we call it a long yarn, a tall tale—but as the three-line Lydia Davis story shows us, when we tell stories, we’re lying, and there are many ways to lie. Writing very short stories, we’ll tell lies of omission. We’ll write stories between 100-1,000 words, playing with different levels of compression. We’ll be borrowing from the poets, who often write with constraints in mind, but we’ll keep our narrative impulses. We’ll try on forms like Craig’s List postings, text messages, and fables. We’ll read Lydia Davis, Jamaica Kincaid, Osama Alomar, Grace Paley, and more practitioners of the genre to discover a variety of approaches. We’ll workshop our stories in class, providing generous feedback. Together we’ll figure out what the core undeniable elements of story are. Writers of all genres are welcome.
Anna Mebel is the author of the chapbook Eradicate Sex Chemicals! (dancing girl press) and the co-founding editor of Figure 1. Her writing has been published in Sixth Finch, The Journal, The Rupture, Pinwheel, Tin House Open Bar, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Syracuse University.