The Drabble Liked My Dabbling!

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I am a fairly verbose writer who’s long been wedded to my nonfiction status and believed myself incapable of writing fiction.

But on just my second try, my bite-sized piece of fiction has been accepted by The Drabble, a blog featuring fiction, nonfiction, and poetry of 100 words or fewer. That’s quite nice, so I’d like to tell you about it.

The story began a few months ago, when I’d been blogging for just about a year. Suddenly, a strange black ink blot sort of thing appeared in my email. Some of you may recognize it, as it inspired my first Drabble effort, titled “What Is…?,” published here on July 1.

That ink blot, which I find ominous, is The Drabble avatar. They’re kinda mysterious there, so I’m not sure who’s behind The Drabble. Whoever he/she/they are (I’ll go with “they”), they had “liked” two of my lengthy nonfiction pieces.

I looked them up, and I then learned from other sources about the fascinating literary history of the drabble (going back to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and including a foray by Monty Python, as I explained here, in the Note beneath “What Is…?”). So I decided to try. 

I sent “What Is…?” to The Drabble and, true to their word, they responded within a month. That one didn’t work for them, but they encouraged me to try again. 

This effort occurred just as I was becoming aware (in a “Duh!” moment) that I was surrounded by short fiction. Indeed, “flash fiction”—brief little stories—are all the rage in the blogosphere.

I’ve since also become acquainted with fictional “prompts” that offer writers the challenge of weaving tales around individual words, photos, or maxims, with story limits set at 25 words, 37 words, and the like.

I’ve never tried one, but people seem to enjoy composing them. Turns out there are oodles of writers conjuring lots and lots of teensy tales—many of them very good.

And here I must mention Tetiana and Tony, who blog together as “Unbolt Me” and surely take the virtual prize: they often write stories that are six words long. As I suggested to them in a comment, six-word stories seem to me like hijacked haiku and come dangerously close to being a blank page. Yet they do it–provocatively!

I now see that there are even prompts for six-worders,  and the prolific Fandango, who’s full of fun and ingenuity, frequently responds to those. There are undoubtedly many others dabbling diminutively whose talents I haven’t yet had the pleasure to discover.

But I digress. I published my second short fictional post on my blog in August and called it “The Limitation of Limits.” It is actually a satire on the genre.

Fortunately, The Drabble folks have a sense of humor because they informed me a few days ago that they’d accepted it for publication, and it would appear that very afternoon. 

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Again true to their word, it did appear. For one day “The Limitation of Limits” was the most prominent Drabble on their post.

Each day, a newly featured Drabble assumes that premium real estate. So if you check out my Drabble there, you now have to look under “Older Posts.” (It’s dated October 31, 2019.) And if you like it, please feel free to click Like—and comment if you so choose. Here’s the link.

The Drabble printed my original post verbatim, albeit with a different illustration from mine (above), and the descriptor I provided:

“After decades writing what others asked of me, I am thrilled to have the freedom to follow my curiosity wherever it takes me. Not incidentally, I’ve always wanted my words to change the world—preferably for the better!” – the writer

Thanks to all of you for your continuing support through thick prose, thin fiction—and a smattering of poetry. Who knows what’ll spring up here next? I certainly don’t, though I have some ideas and works in progress. Last week it was my confessions of beetlecide (concluding with my first haiku).

I try to stay true to my self-imposed mission–and hope you think I hit the mark more often than not: to encourage “Dialogue to Inform, Enlighten, and/or Amuse You and Me.” Stay tuned…

Annie

 

The Limitations of Limits

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Dare I dabble in Drabble? the prolix writer asks.
What’ve ya got to lose? his friend patiently responds.
Not much…maybe 2400 words.
Were they all worth including?
Nah. Just my inner thoughts, deep regrets, and lessons learned about that kid–
You know the one.
Can’t say I do.
The lost kid…the one I tried to save.
What happened to him?
It’s a long story…

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This is my second attempt at “flash fiction.” I have described the history of The Drabble (a specific type of flash fiction restricted to stories told in no more than 100 words) here. In essence, the story is supposed to have a traditional narrative arc (beginning, middle, and end), “a telling pivot, an emotional velocity,” and leave the reader feeling that you have a sense of where the story is going even without my giving you more details.

So, my dear reader/critics: It’s your turn. Am I on to something here? Do you enjoy these little interludes from my muchmuchmuch longer pieces? I really appreciate hearing your views.

Annie

What Is…?

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It is terrifying and large—
Resembling a giant ink spot, but much more ominous.
Its effect on me seems surreal:
I was comfortably at my desk, fingers moving along my computer keyboard as they always do.
Invariably, my curiosity about the world spills onto the virtual page with relative ease.

But not now.

Wait! I mustn’t. I can’t. I watch as a bystander while that hovering image, imprinted in my brain, constrains me. I have known writer’s block. This is no writer’s block.

Too much, it says. Think again, it commands. Gain control, it insists. 

What is happening to me?

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NOTE:

As anyone who has visited this blog is aware, I do not usually write with brevity. I started writing my posts with a self-imposed limit of 1000 words, understanding that readers have busy lives and don’t always want to plow through long treatises. But I blew through that one fairly quickly because I’m always so fascinated by my topic that I make the assumption (undoubtedly sometimes erroneously) that you will be too.

The above is an experiment in what has been called “flash fiction.” It was inspired by several of my posts receiving “likes” from an entity known as The Drabble, “a site dedicated to publishing original fiction, non-fiction, and poetic works of 100 words or less.” If they could look at my 2000-word essays and assume I could pare down a story to 100 words, that was a challenge I had to take up.

The people behind The Drabble have written:

“You may wonder if it’s even possible to write a good story in fewer than 100 words. We say yes, although it’s certainly not easy. Most modern narrative art adheres in some way to Shakespeare’s three-act structure (i.e., conflict, rising action/crisis, resolution), whilst presenting a clear theme. Must all these elements be present to tell a good story? Grant Faulkner, co-founder of 100 Word Story, thinks so. In his essay, ‘Writing with Gaps,’ Faulkner says,

‘I think the best 100-word stories move with the escalation any story has. They have a beginning, middle, and end—a telling pivot, an emotional velocity.’”

And they add this description from Hemingway:

“If a writer knows enough about what he is writing, he may omit things that he knows, and the reader…will feel those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.”

The concept of “flash fiction” is reportedly traceable to three men at the UK Science Fiction Society at Birmingham (England) University—and inspired by the wacky Monty Python group, who wrote about it in Big Red Book, published in 1971. According to drablr.com (The History of the Drabble),”The participants gathered around a fire, sipping brandy and partaking of pleasant conversation with friends and challenge each other to write a novel. The first to finish wins.”

I won’t go into the origins more deeply, but they actually stretch back to Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) and have more recently included works by such prominent science fiction writers as Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. If you’re interested, you can read more about the history of the form here.

This background provides you with the impetus for the piece above. It is precisely 100 words, so I succeeded in terms of brevity, which was my own big question mark. Brevity alone is fine, but not enough. I am eager for your reactions. Did this mini-story catch and hold your interest? Do you think I met the sense of the Drabble as it’s been outlined? Is this a welcome change from my verbosity—or not? Please be candid in your responses. I am a nonfiction writer dabbling/drabbling in a new garden.

Annie