I have just begun a new writing endeavour – I am now entering the world of flash fiction.   What is this lovely new genre?  you may ask.  Well, I shall tell you.

Flash fiction is short fiction.  It’s almost always under 1,000 words, and sometimes under even 100.  but really the whole point is the ‘flash’.  It’s a twist story, one with a sudden ending or unexpected revelation or plot twist.  I like to think of it as the pun of short story writing.  Usually it leaves the reader with one line or sentence that turns everything preceding on its head.  And, growing up with my father, I have plenty of corny puns on hand.  They’ve been beaten into my psyche.

While I haven’t done much of it yet, it seems to go as quickly as writing this blog does.  Today I’ve managed to churn out three stories of the ‘speculative’ variety (sci-fi/fantasy), which would probably be the easiest for me to handle.  ben from my writer’s group was doing some in the spy genre, and Jeff has done some that’s much more literary, but if we’re talking quantity, I feel like speculative fiction gives the most freedom.  With all the imaginative (or fake) stuff that goes into it, it’s just easier to churn out.  At least in my opinion.  But then, I have read more of that type of fiction when looking for a fast read, so maybe I’m just accustomed to it.

I had been doing a bit of research about places that were looking for shorter stuff, and came up with the FFW which, in turn, led me to a few different sites.  I am going to send off the first batch tonight, and with the speed at which I can crank these out and a three day weekend ahead of me, I have high hopes for creating more and submitting more as well.  And maybe even doing a little novel editing, too.  Yay!

More Muslims and Food for Thought (almost)

I was wandering around in the blogosphere and stumbled across this nicely meandering Islamic writer’s spot.  While the writer seemed a little disparaging of his own faith commitment at the moment, It reminded me of my own lacks and lapses and gave me a friendly little reminder about what I might do about it – afternoon tea for one.

I love people.  I genuinely love being around people.  But sometimes, I need to get away for awhile.   Living with Mike has increased this need.  Even when I had more roommates, there were still times that I’d end up at the apartment by myself, with a little time to just reflect and be.  Now I tend to plan my free time to spend it with him.  When he goes out with work buddies, I’m usually out of the house too.  And vice versa.  And I love being able to spend that spare time with him.  it’s really really nice to have someone to come home to.

More than that though, I’ve realized how much I miss having my own time.  I have an intense focus something, which allows me to block the outside world out, and I need that to a certain extent.  it helps me get things done, and also allows me to create the semblance of alone-time.  But I need more, and I need to be more contentious about creating that time for myself.   I need to sit down with no distractions every once and awhile to think.  Maybe to write, maybe just to get my head cleared out, but mostly just to think.  I need to be sure to take the time to balance myself, and to evaluate my life – not in terms of directing my future, but just in terms of what it is.  I need to let experience sink in deep, from the roots of my hair to the tips of my toes.

Book burning for all?

As I am a writer, and and avid reader (some people don’t suppose those things go together, but I’m not one of them) I’ve been more than a little hesitant about the Kindle. Mike has, of course, extolled the virtues of electronic paper multiple times. If you’re interested in that kind of thing, Wikipedia has an easy-to understand article that explains how it works. And the Kindle is supposed to be very flexible, very thought out, and about the same size and weight as a paperback. So especially for traveling, probably a good thing – store enough books for your whole trip in the size of something one book big. For me that’s a big issue, as I often take more books than clothes, especially on longer trips.

But I’m still not convinced. Yes, I read the reviews, and listened to all these tech guys and other avid readers extol the virtues and honestly address some of the hiccups. And I am genuinely impressed with the product. I may even buy one some day, even at the current high price. As I’ve said before, I’m sure it would be ideal for travel especially more travel. But still, something holds me back from totally confirming the advent of a new reading age. Is it my inner traditionalist coming out, the reactionary who knows the old ways were the best? Or is it something else?

It’s not that I haven’t done my share of electronic reading already – take a look at this post on Baen.  But that hasn’t made me a convert to only electronic reading by any means.  True, the Kindle won’t eventually hurt your eyes like a computer screen will.  And true, there are many functions that allow you to treat it as a normal book – bookmarking, notes making,, highlighting, all kinds of stuff.  And it might even be good that I wouldn’t be able to beat up a Kindle like I do a regular paperback, bending the pages and breaking bindings and covers.  But still, there’s something missing from an electronic device like that.

Maybe it’s all in my head, but I don’t think I could get into it in the same way.  I’m not sure I could allow the page to blur before my vision, forming only story, not words.  I’m not sure I could let my mind open up, and really inhabit the world of the characters.  Most certainly I couldn’t surround myself with the smell of the bindings’ glue and the ink on the pages.  Even though Amazon may one day also vend perfumes to mimic these smells, something would be missing.

And what of my library?  What of that little collection I’ve build up of physical objects that I can touch and see surrounding me?  What of the book spines I run my fingers over gently, knowing friends within?  It’s true, when e-book first got big, some predicted the end of fiction as we know it, and this is just another chapter in that book.  But really I can’t see Kindle as lighting a book-burning fire.  At least not yet.

Revamp – Writers, Untie!

So, this didn’t end up getting very far, but I’m putting it back up to promote further growth. Add a line as you like, not more than one in a row.

Me: It was a bright, shining, light-filled sort of midwinter morning.

Corina: Snow enveloped every branch, rock and roof except for one tiny speck of glistening blue off in the distance.

Alex: As I walked, the blue speck grew to a dot, then even larger.

Me: It grew to the size of a small dime.

My Brother/Boyfriend:  Wisps of breath lingered behind me, the blue dime becoming a bluer quarter.

Me: Suddenly I realize the large, bluer quarter with wispy breath is trying to eat me!

Alex: I unsheathed my trusty Swiss Army knife to defend myself.

A horse of a different color

Throughout my life, the question of faith has somehow been tied up with factual evidence, historical accounts, and the power of both science and religion to facilitate wonder. Those who do not believe are always looking for proof. Those who do have faith are also looking to reinforce or explore that faith. Both sides are really looking for the same thing, though – meaning. Whether in science, religion, or philosophy the search always has been, and always will be, for meaning. For myself, I think that as long as that search is being actively pursued – as long as the faithful aren’t just sitting on their laurels watching everyone else, as long as the scientist is still striving to make that next discovery and the poet to distill that shadowy intangible – no one search will be invalid or wrong. It’s the questioning that counts, that makes life full.

Personally, that’s why I am typically delighted with the scientific discoveries made in relation to my faith. The Sea of Gallilee may have been full of ice floes and that’s what Jesus walked on? Delightful! New gospels and letters bringing into question the ideas that the early church’s Gospel left to us? Well then, let’s all get a little closer to the historical Christ, and in turn, to the one we feel in our hearts. If history unearths a new revelation or challenge for us, let’s meet the challenge.

Now it’s the turn of the Muslims to question the foundations of their faith a bit. And for a religion that holds the very image of its prophets (including Jesus) still sacred, it’s going to come as a blow. Still, there will be adaptations, modifications, and in time a lessening of the impact these foundations have. It is the nature of religions – at least the nature we have seen thus far. That’s why the Buddha is reincarnated – with each passing generation, the truth of his teaching, his path, dilutes further. You need a new shot of truth in the arm to keep progress going forward. I mean, look at how short-living some of the founding principles of current religions were – having to be Jewish to become Christian, or freeing all your slaves who were also Muslim. The things that were less politically desirable were discarded.

Now, the question comes when an individual must determine if these changes negatively or positively impacts the belief itself. Does my acceptance and tolerance of others make me more faithful, or damn me? Will the questioning of the Koran shatter the Islamic religion, or change it into something different, for better or worse?