Vol. 4 – Tell Me Snow

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You’d think that all the editing would happen on the computer: rearrange sentences, delete words, add a detail here, experiment with different punctuation. And that does happen – excessively. I arrive at an arrangement of words and ideas that seems satisfying and so I begin to write them out, pen-and-ink style, on a small rectangle of graph paper.

There’s something in the physical process of writing out the story that results in a different perspective though. I discover new inconsistencies, new problems within the story that I had missed while editing on the computer. I feel the flow of words differently because I’m forced to slow down. Watching sentences appear from the tip of my pen creates a different rhythm in the story-voice I hear in my head.

But it’s frustrating to get halfway through a handwritten piece and decide I want to change one word or the order of sentences. That will make this copy less-good than the possible copy I could create if I start over. Do I really need to? Does it matter that much? Who’s going to see this anyway and will those people even notice the care with which I’ve chosen words?

But I care. Deeply.  Writing is the art of using language – that includes sentence structure, punctuation, the rhythm and prosody of word choices, even the etymology that lingers in them like ghosts. These tiny stories allow me the luxury of laser-focus on a work of manageable size where I get to play with all aspects of language that advance a story.

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Why graph paper? I have a bunch of it from some idea of a project years ago that never happened; I don’t even remember now what it was. The lines are faint enough to not distract from the reading but helpful enough to keep my writing aligned. But I also find poetry and symbolism in my use of graph paper. It seems like a funny juxtapostion: paper generally used for subjects that seem so far from fiction. But flash fictions demand a tight geometry, proportions cannot be lax. Like a well-drawn graph, a flash fiction must include just the right details in a very small space, so that an outsider comes away with a meaningful story that she’s helped create through her reading.

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Hoping the snow doesn’t keep me from getting these five new copies of the fourth edition of Lost Mitten Fiction out into the world this week!

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2 thoughts on “Vol. 4 – Tell Me Snow

  1. I wish you’d leave some of these laying around up in the Hanover area so I could find one! I love this idea and would be quite tickled to stumble on one of these.

    Like

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