How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?
In fifth grade Sister Marie asked our class to write stories for a new school newspaper. I wrote a story and had it “published” – printed on those old smelly blue mimeograph sheets. I was hooked. Maybe it was the smell of the copier fluid. When we moved to the suburbs an English teacher in seventh and eighth grade, Mrs. Hull, encouraged me to write poems and stories. I’ve always carried a notebook around with me because of her inspiration. And I still have my original notebooks from 1966.
What inspired you to write flash fiction?
As other authors have noted, flash fiction feels like prose poetry. I appreciate the tight language of well-written flash stories. I like the beat and rhythm of that form and find myself recasting more of my poems, short stories, and memoir pieces into flash fiction.
Describe your writing process.
I’m a lazy, opportunistic writer. Sometimes I try to write every day in a systematic and organized way, but disciplined writing practices don’t seem to last very long for me. Whenever I have an open space I’ll pull out a pocket notebook or turn on my laptop, though my best writing seems to occur either early or late in the day. When inspiration hits in awkward situations, I’ll call up SIRI on my cellphone to send a text message to myself. Over the past year I’ve gone back to Moleskin style notebooks for writing most of my rough drafts. I do less self-censoring when I write out poems or stories long hand.
What was the inspiration behind what was published on FewerThan500.com?
I based my story on the last events of my wife’s life. Though I’ve cast it as flash fiction, most of the sensations and recollections come from my memories of those hours almost six years ago. However, I feel a bit guilty at times writing about her death and sharing it with the world. Am I exploiting her experiences? She doesn’t have a say in the matter.
What are you working on now?
I recently finished teaching a class on submitting poems and short stories for an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Champaign, Illinois. I hope to teach followup classes on the submission process, but now I need to share the good news of my most recent acceptance with my class. I’m working on bits and pieces of poems and short stories. And I’m polishing up my oral delivery. Live poetry readings energize my writing.