Kids love to share memories. Nothing beats a 10-year-old saying, "When I was little...". Memory defies time; even though as we age, we define our memories by time.
When I was a kid...
Last year, I remember...
This reminds me of when I was in college, and...
Memory defines us. Memory is experience, emotion, friendship. It is the collection of moments that form who we were and who we have become. There is an importance to memory.
So it shouldn't really surprise me when a young child wants to share her memories. Memories connect us.
This past month, I've been fortunate to spend several hours visiting and reading to elementary students. I have shared various chapters from my middle grade narrative, "This Girl Climbs Trees". In one class, I was moved to laughter and tears as students shared memories of trees in their lives. One girl told of a beautiful lemon tree that sat in the yard, from which they did not remove the fruit but which offered a place of shade and beauty until her father cut it down. Another boy told of a tree at his former home that the neighbor insisted be removed due to its invasive roots and dead leaves on their property. This injustice troubled the boy, and he insisted his family's next home have a tree further from any neighbor's yard. They just planted a Birch.
They have a wide front yard.
The students' stories inspired me. I had no idea that Eliza Mills (the central character) had so much in common with real live kids. I made up Eliza. I made up the entire story. Yet real children (and adults) continue to share with me their memories of a favorite tree.
So I'd like to offer this challenge: In 150 words or less, write a memory of your tree. How did you connect with it? What do you now observe as the importance of this tree, this memory? Post your short passage here or on your own site. Paste a link in the comments below so that we can read it.
You might be surprised what comes up as you explore the importance of memory. I'll post mine this week. You have forever, but I will shout out my favorite on Twitter next Sunday. Please connect with me there and leave your Twitter handle here. If you are under 18, please let me know so you can get your own awesome shout out!
Thanks! Good luck.
A few weeks ago, I had some fun with Lisa Reiter's flash fiction challenge, Bitesize Memoir. I found the task pretty challenging. It takes a lot of skill to scale down a piece of writing into such a small bite. Writers tend to want to add detail upon detail.. (Or is that just me?)
I did a little research and found everything and more one needs to know about this tightly trimmed task.
There are many names for it. Sophie Novak breaks it down on TheWritePractice.
There are How To's with detailed guidelines on being brief.
There are whole websites devoted to it. (Try flashfictiononline.)
There's even a National Flash Fiction Day in the UK!
TheReviewReview lists numerous places you can publish or read these tiny verbal installments.
Flash fiction carries a few simple rules: keep it brief (duh); make a story (beginning, middle, end); close with a surprise.
Sounds simple, yes? Uh, yeah, no. Not for me. I write novels because I'm like a starting pitcher. I need a few innings to warm up. Think of flash fiction as your closer who comes in an inning early. Flash needs to be tight AND pack a punch AND leave them wanting more. Not so easy.
However, this writing exercise has been great for me. The task of trimming unnecessary verbiage from a wordy piece of prose is like squeezing your 40-year-old self into your college jeans. Not impossible, but it may require a diet.
I'm on a flash fiction diet. Join me! It's always better with friends.
This week, I found another amazing writing resource, Charli Mills. And guess what? Yep, Charli likes to write flash fiction. She's tempting visitors with her own short challenges. I tried this week's: Flash Fiction with a Twist. Write a story of exactly 99 words; start with a twist. Post it in the comments section on Charli's site (carrotranch.com) by Tuesday, May 20, to be included in her round-up. Or just write it for fun. Please share your links here, too, so I can see what you've come up with.
Here's mine. I'm posting it with Charli, too.
Dan Fields leapt out of the coroner’s van and searched his pockets for a cigarette. He’d seen plenty of dead bodies in his time to know they weren’t supposed to breathe.
“This is a problem,” he told himself. He realized he had another problem: he’d quit smoking last week after Carol left. He shoved a stale stick of gum in his mouth and flicked the foil wrapper into the street.
He heard a thud against the van wall. No, a pounding. No, a thumping. The whole van shook. This wasn't good.
Dan worked alone.
Yep, this was a problem.