The launch of ‘A Flash of Fiction’

The wonderful cover of A Flash of Fiction  – an anthology of forty-two flashes selected from the entries for the first ever Worcestershire Literary Festival 2012 flash fiction competition and launched on Sunday with drum roll and fanfare. The arrival of the Queen of Sheba could not have been more eagerly awaited.

Organising and judging the competition, preparing for the awards ceremony (held in June as part of the WLF) and editing the anthology has been fun, challenging and time-consuming. That last one meaning my only regret about taking on the venture is that I might have finished my novel by now if I hadn’t! But apart from that – and a few sleepless nights near the beginning when the enormity of organising the first-ever flash fiction for WLF began to hit me! – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

At that early stage, I was trying to do it on my own. I’d come up with the idea in December 2011, after hearing about the first National Flash Fiction Day which was going to be celebrated in May 2012. I immediately thought a flash fiction competition/event would be a great addition to the WLF programme. I gained the green-light from Lisa Ventura festival director, and managed to secure Calum Kerr, founder of National Fiction Day to share the judging of the competition with me. I was delighted at he is not only the brains behind NFFD, but he also wrote a flash every day for a year and published them in a book called 365.

I started to do some tentative publicity and then panicked. I was very clear that I wanted the judging of the competition to be anonymous. I have taught creative writing in Worcestershire for a number of years and I knew there was a fair chance I would recognise the names of some of the entrants. I think the only way the merits of a piece of writing can be judged is if the work is anonymous. This meant I could not be responsible for entries coming straight to me. I needed someone as an administrator – to liaise with the writers and the judges, to collate the entries, and be accountable for the money. Step forward one Polly Robinson!

Polly was a wonderful administrator, and together, we planned, laughed, disagreed, laughed again our way through the whole process from setting the competition in motion to bringing the anthology A Flash of Fiction to fruition. Despite some hairy moments along the way, we can now look back and celebrate the fact that flash fiction – previously hardly spoken of in Worcestershire! – is now firmly on the map.

We had nearly 100 entries for the competition, a marvellous outcome considering it was the first one held, and so it was important to get the word out there. We must have made a good job of this as entries came from the Scottish Highlands, Ireland, both North and South. most of the English counties, and of course, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Herefordshire – and not forgetting one entry from Canada! And when we held the launch on Sunday, it was wonderful to find a good number of our authors had travelled from places as far-flung as Gateshead, Cambridgeshire, Devon and Staffordshire, although our Canadian entrant didn’t fly over for the occasion – not quite sure why!

When it came to putting the anthology together, again this proved to be time-consuming but immensely enjoyable. I dealt with the editorial side – selecting the stories, organising them thematically, occasionally ‘tidying up’ the writing(!), and Polly worked on the technical side, and once more did a wonderful job. We decided together on the front cover image – which I think is lovely – and the look and feel of the book. I enjoyed rereading the stories (some of them many times) and seeing the small details, the little things that perhaps didn’t leap from the page during the jostling for position amongst all the other entries to the competition, but which, nevertheless had their own quiet satisfaction of a story well told.

For me, the fictional elements that underpin longer pieces of fiction – character, conflict, change, resolution – need to be present, however implicitly, to make a successful flash fiction. When it works, the outcome is complete and satisfying – perhaps all the more so as a result of being achieved in so few words. Ernest Hemingway is said to have written one of the shortest and most quoted pieces of flash fiction For Sale. Baby’s shoes. Never Worn. If he could do that in six words, imagine what can be achieved in 300!

A Flash Of Fiction is available on Amazon as an e and print book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flash-Fiction-Lindsay-Stanberry-Flynn/dp/1291106561/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355215120&sr=1-1

 

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4 Comments

  1. Nice blog Mrs S-F ~ what a good time was had by all at the event ~ so sorry I couldn’t make it ~ here’s some good news, the Worcester News carries the story today! 🙂

  2. Robin Heaney says:

    I came across this article ‘Stories in Your Pocket: How to Write Flash Fiction’
    by David Gaffney in The Guardian 12 May 2012

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/14/how-to-write-flash-fiction

    It also has a link – click on ‘Elmore Leonard’ – to some sets of rules for writers by several distinguished authors. Nearly all of which have been broken in great pieces of writing.

  3. Lindsay says:

    Look forward to reading the pieces, Robin. Thanks.

  4. Lindsay says:

    Thanks, Polly. Such a shame you couldn’t be there, but it’s great that the anthology is doing so well!

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