Thursday, May 9, 2013

Flash Fiction

Still reeling from the disappointing results of my ebook experiment, I entered a period of depression, followed by a period of heavy drinking, and culminating with alternating bouts of anger, self-loathing, and giggling.  It was a rough time, I won’t lie, but it only lasted about an hour, and I’m over it now.

I’m not going to give up.  In fact, as long as people refuse to read my work, I’m going to keep writing.  That’s what it’s all about, I’ve decided.  So I’m revisiting one of my first loves, Samantha Horowitz of Paramus, New Jersey, for the hell of it.  And then I’m revisiting another of my first loves; flash fiction.

I can’t write poetry, but I can write brief stories.  What I like the most about flash fiction is that it forces you to be creative in a limited space.  It’s like painting a sunset with only two colors, and not the colors you want.  

The storyteller John Daniel crafts massive little stories with only 99 words.  I can’t do that.  I need 150-250.  But with 150 words, you can make a story out of nearly anything, like this:


“I don’t have a lot of money,” I told the liquor store clerk.  He knows me; we go way back.  “But that doesn’t mean I’m willing to sacrifice on quality.”

“How much do you have?”

I held up a handful of coins.  “$2.34”

He reached for a miniature bottle of Smirnoff.  “This is the best I can do.”  

“No.”  I shook my head.  “It’s really too small.  What else do you have?”

“Nothing, nothing at all, except,…no.”


He sighed and pulled a liter bottle from under the counter.  The label was Russian.  “I don’t know if you’re ready.  It’s made from turnips.”

“What’s it like?”

“It’s a low-born vodka, sullen with a harrowing finish.  It’s the kind of tipple you’d want along on a cold November morning if you were stripping wallpaper in Minsk.”

“How much?”


I did the math.  “I’ll take two.”

If you’d like to read more, consider investing 99¢ and picking up a copy of The Mummies of Blogspace9.  It’s been called “original,” “evocative,” “mind-blowing,” “far-reaching in scope,” and “genre-bending,” all by me.  This could well be the best 99¢ you spend all day.


john M. Daniel said...

Fine story, Bill. You write of the human condition: economics and the need to escape. Good work!

William Doonan said...

Thanks, John. I still can't make the stories as tight as you can, but I'm working on it.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Flash fiction, sounds interesting. Have you ever tried group flash fiction, where one person starts a story and another adds and another adds until it is a complete tale? None of the writers know how it will end or what the others the direction that the story will take.

William Doonan said...


I've never tried that. To be honest, it sounds a little intimidating!

Theresa Varela said...

I like the idea of flash fiction. I don't have to read more than a couple of pages to decide whether I want to finish it or not. Good idea.

Charles Gramlich said...

Over the last five years I've really become entranced with the flash fiction possibilities. Some really interesting stuff that one can do.

Charles Gramlich said...

oh, and sounds like your drinking and mood changes were pretty flash fiction as well. :)

William Doonan said...

Yes, Charles, I cycled through pretty quickly!

marja said...

LOL I see a pattern forming between your depression drinking and your flash fiction. Just joking! I couldn't write a story that short so I admire the talent it takes to do that. Some of us just talk to much to keep it that short.
Marja McGraw

William Doonan said...

Thanks Marja! I talk a lot too, which makes this kind of writing all the more challenging.

C.L. Swinney said...

Man I feel your pain. I'm dealing with trying to make a deadline JUST to get published, while you were momentarily sulking in e-pub blues. Hang in there buddy. I enjoy your work and have tried to promote American Caliphate in the social media world! Thanks for sharing this one!

Chris Swinney

William Doonan said...

Thanks Chris, you made my day!