How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?
I wrote a lot as part of my work life, but only dabbled in writing fiction. It wasn’t until after I retired (multitasking wasn’t one of my strengths) that I began writing fiction.
What inspired you to write flash fiction?
It’s in my DNA. I wrote a paper for grad school. The professor’s comment was something like, “It’s short, but I can’t think of anything you left out.” I got an A on the paper.
Describe your writing process.
When I began, I wrote every day after lunch. I tried writing in the morning, but found myself distracted by thinking of all the other things I needed to do. So, I did them first. Now, my writing is less frequent—but just as intense. Because I’m writing flash, I usually finish a first draft in one sitting. Occasionally, I get stuck and am unsure where the story needs to go. At those times, I walk away and come back to it—often after my subconscious has noodled out the problem.
After one or two rounds of revisions, I post the piece in an online writing group for comments. I read the comments and set them and the piece aside for at least a week before rereading the comments again and making notes. I rarely change anything immediately (obvious typos are an exception).
I do research when needed. I wrote a story about a sniper a few years ago. After the first draft, I researched the specific weapons used by the military and how they worked. I still missed something, which a critiquer pointed out after asking her husband, who had been a sniper in the army, to read the piece. Recently, I wrote (and had published) a story about a Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) wannabe. In this case, I researched the subject before writing the piece. I’m not always certain what needs to be researched until after I’ve written the first draft and know where the story’s going. How long do I spend on research? Whatever time is needed.
What was the inspiration behind what was published on FewerThan500.com?
The inspiration came from a prompt to write a story and include a rainbow.
What are you working on now?
As of right now, I’m not working on anything new. I just finished reworking and submitting about a dozen stories that had been languishing in my “rewrite needed” pile. About a third of them have been accepted (and by the time this goes public published). I repost most of my accepted stories, and a few that go directly to the site, on by blog — http://jpharrington.blogspot.com/
Read Jim’s story: The Other Casualties of War.