A writer I once knew (a poet I believe) said something about Flash Fiction that’s stuck with me. She said that Flash Fiction was interesting to her as it “asymptotically approached poetry.” And I think I like that idea. It suggests a differentiation between Flash and Short Story that may lie more in the attitude of each towards language rather than in any technical details like word count, plot, or characterization.
But then I’ve never been good at taking things apart to find out what makes them what they are. Especially art.
I remember a Christmas when I was very young, my mother made these marvelous ornaments for the tree, a kind of origami in aluminum foil – stars, snowflakes, and angels blowing trumpets – that completely captured my youthful imagination. I begged her to show me how she made them. I wanted so desperately to create such things of beauty myself with a desire that I can only imagine now must have approached lust. For whatever reasons, she patiently refused to show me.
So early one morning I crept downstairs and snatched an angel off the Christmas tree and scurried back to my room where I carefully undid it fold-by-fold on top of my dresser. I gently smoothed the foil flat and began refolding it, trying carefully to follow its original creases. Soon I had a crinkled, folded, misshapen mess that look so unlike the beautiful ornament it had been that it made me cry.
Which is maybe why I don’t really like taking things apart much. Maybe “defining” Flash, or any kind of writing or art–taking it apart, examining it to see what makes it tick, putting it back together again– is an impossible task for me.
Maybe that’s why it seems more than enough for me to just write. To just enjoy the snowflakes as they fall.