The first question we have to ask ourselves is: what is flash? The number answer varies depending on where you are submitting — I have seen as few as 25 words, but the standard is 1000 words or under. But the concept is more than just a number. In whatever format you write, be it fiction or non-fiction, your flash has to tell a whole story. The same “rules” apply to creative non-fiction as do to fiction; the main difference is that you are telling a story that is true. For some people, that can be a really difficult thing to do. Remember that within the confines of this class, only your classmates and I will be reading your work, so you don’t have to worry about your mother/brother/best friend’s reaction. You have to think about yourself within the confines of the truthfulness of your work.
I think something we can all relate to is some sort of rejection in our childhood. Look at the image below and think about what memories it might bring up for you regarding your childhood.
“Sex Objects” by Sandra Lambert
Consider after Reading
Lambert starts by telling a story from her childhood and then shows a short scene from her adulthood which is related to that childhood scene. We see her thought process throughout and we hear her speak. A lot of people have difficulty with writing a piece of memoir with dialog. How, they wonder, can the author possibly remember what exactly was said. Well, here is the crux: you don’t have to remember exactly. You are getting the gist of it. Think back to the last argument you had with someone, for example. Do you know what was said? If you had to tell it as a story right now, could you give the gist of it? That’s the important part.
The other person in the argument might remember the incident entirely differently, but that’s not what is at stake in writing memoir. What is at stake is writing what is true to you. Lambert begs to be objectified among women who have been objectified and feel taken advantage of. Her story is telling us something bigger about life and about her experience in it. Her experience is likely very different than many people’s experiences but when you write your work, don’t worry how “unique” your experience is. There is something universal in Lambert’s experience – rejection. That is what makes the story compelling to us. We all experience some sort of rejection, even if we aren’t the rejected but are the one who rejects.
We are a bit late in getting started with Week 1, so I am only assigning one story to read. Now I want you to write your own story of less than 1000 words about an experience of rejection from your childhood. Think about what you want your reader to take away from your story. What did Lambert want us to take away from her story?
Be sure to include dialog as you recall it and to set up the scene for us – where is this taking place? When? How did you feel then? Are you going to bring us into the future of your own timeline (twenty-five years later was the 80s for Lambert) to tell part of the story or does it all happen in the same moment?
Emily Dickenson said that poets say it “slant” – meaning that they don’t just come out and tell the reader what the take away is from the story (sometimes you don’t know!). Instead, the writer tells the story (or poem in her case) and lets the reader work out what the function of that particular piece is. Lambert’s piece is controversial. Look at the comments below her story. Many feminists are of two minds about it – if you’ve never been sexually objectified, what does that do when everyone else has been objectified. But the feminists are sitting there saying that they don’t want to be objectified – but is that really true? There is much more happening here than what meets the eye. In your story, attempt to think about the different levels on which your story could be understood.
Guidelines, Submissions & Formatting
- Due Date: Sunday, 6 pm.
- Submission Link: Submit to the below forum.
- Submission Format: Attach an MS Word document in Universal Manuscript Format with the following format (this format is firm and universal). Double-spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman, 1 in margins, heading with name, address, email, website (if applicable), and phone number on page one. Page two and forward should have in the top right corner your last name and page number.
- Word Count: 1000 words or less (this is firm)
- First Draft: As you write the first draft, let your creativity go where it needs to go. First drafts are meant to be messy and creatively uninhibited. After writing the first draft, lay it to the side for at least a day before revising.
- Second Draft: Read through again, and revise for language and lyricism. Consider, during this revision, how the two characters interact and what that might mean in a sociopolitical and/or human relationship way. How do they foil each other? Flesh out any sections that might further reflect this sociopolitical undercurrent of the work but be careful not to make this undercurrent too obvious. Let the reader have room to work this out for him or herself. Remember, we don’t answer questions for our readers, we simply prompt our readers to ask good questions. Giving our readers room to make meaning for themselves within our narratives is a sign of artistic and literary excellence. Now, lay the work aside for at least a day before your next revision.
- Third Draft: Now read this revision aloud as you record yourself. Upon listening to your recording, consider any language issues in your revision. You might also ask a trusted reader to read the manuscript aloud to you as you sit with your own copy and make revisions. Hearing our language aloud is one of the quickest and surest ways to improve pacing, tone, and cadence.
- Submissions to the Instructor: The last week of class, you will choose one favorite piece from the works you’ve created in this course for submission. You will be given the chance to flesh it out and make it longer.
- Please make sure to contact me directly with any questions regarding assignments and technology.
Thank you for trusting us with your words. Please consider taking another workshop with us and spreading the word…
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