Last week I had my first workshop in Short Short Fiction. For as much as I’m struggling with this class, it went really, really well. I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
I’m struggling because I’m still not sure about what makes something a short short story (aside from length). About 50% of the things we read feel like complete stories. They’re satisfying and don’t leave me thinking what the fuck. The other half of the stories leave me crying “what the fuck?” in the middle of class.
I keep pestering Eric, our teacher, for the answers. Like there’s some sort of formula X-(3)+ny5x66= short short. I need rules. I need guidelines. His answer does not satisfy me. It’s a short short because it works.
All this sort of writing anarchy leaves me feeling kind of queasy and makes me think I’m back in poetry.
Because of my unease, I’m not sure what to do with the feedback from the workshop. It really was a good workshop. People had a lot of nice things to say, and the not nice things they said I agreed with. Their comments made sense in the context they were given for a standalone story. What I wrote was a 500-word story that works as summation of my bowling alley collection.
Tonight, I was going through the handwritten comments. They cracked me up. First, because over half of my classmates reiterated what Eric had said in class. In case I didn’t hear him, they all wrote it on their pages. I know they wrote it after he said it because all the comments were two-tone, written in two different pens.
What made me chuckle the most was the classmate who went through and underlined the gerunds in my first two paragraphs and wrote “too many adjectives.” For good measure, he/she also did the same for a few paragraphs on the second page, again with the “too many adjectives” admonishment.
Sadly, that still only comes in as #2 on Top 10 list of Least Helpful Advice.
The top spot still belongs to (and probably always will) belong to Johnny the Greek who wrote “this story would be better if you were funnier” on my story.