So, this way older piece of flash fiction of mine came out, and you can read it for free here:

A Good Day by Josh Sczykutowicz

I have way too much older work just sitting around, semi-stockpiled. I had a period of time where I was utterly obsessive about submitting short fiction anywhere and everywhere all the time and I just kind of stopped being that obsessed with it. It is one of the most tedious and time-consuming processes with generally very low reward beyond the psychological one that, unfortunately, I think I got pretty used to, and I’ve just been way more interested in novel-length work these days. I have way more material just sitting around on flash drives and hard drives that I’ve considered just vomiting up on here sometime because I don’t really care to go through the months-long process of waiting to hear back from somewhere just to get told “No” or twice as long to get told “Yes” and then have six people see it.

I have a lot of odd ill-fitting things that are really short and really prose-centric and there’s not a lot of places all too interested in that beyond microfiction mags from what I’ve seen; everyone wants a diagnosable plot rather than a suggested one and to me if you want that you should be reading something longer than 1,000 words. The most interesting flash I’ve read is usually inference-based writing. I remember reading Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts and the best thing in it was a story called Dead-Wood that was a page long and had zero dialogue. There’s a time and a place for different things and I don’t think that flash is exactly the place to try and sell me on some expansive sci-fi vision or some lore-entrenched fantastical realm. Show me a scene; give me a painting; give me a single frame that I can make the rest of the film around in my head. That’s what makes the form so interesting to me and the best of it that I’ve read leaves me haunted by what I’ve just taken in and not really needing to see more because my mind’s already filled in the rest. Give me a really human snapshot of a moment in someone’s life that connects towards and back into several others and I’m happy. Try to write a Wikipedia summary of your novel-length story in 1,000 words or less and I’ll wonder why the fuck you didn’t just write a novel.

I’m trying to get back into writing little flash pieces and short stories again that don’t explode into novella territory. I think it’s a good habit to maintain and a good habit to have. It’s really its own craft; being good at one form doesn’t mean you’ll be good at another whatsoever. I have so much respect for people who only write short stories their whole lives. That’s a commitment to an art that is generally undervalued and underappreciated. When you read a bad one it’s a mild disappointment but doesn’t feel like that big a waste of time and when you read a good one you feel like the whole world has fallen out from under you and you’ve landed someplace else extraordinary.

As a writer I’ll even get jealous, and if it’s really good enough, I’ll even go past that into sheer awe and inadequacy — that deep certainty that no matter how good I ever get, that level will always be out of my skill range. Amy Hempel does that to me in a way nobody else ever has. Almost everything she’s ever written stuns me. It’s incredible. I remember getting a completed works collection of hers at fourteen and reading half and saving the other half because I knew I needed to give myself room to grow with them and save some for my future self. I didn’t want to run out of her words, that’s how stunning they were to me. Things of perfect beauty. She can do all the workshops and explain her craft and dissect it all she wants, and while you can learn a lot from that, there’s a core talent at the heart of her writing that no workshop can grant you. It’s just amazing. She’s one of those rare people on an entirely separate plane of artistic existence and I’m always just grateful to get to see it.

So, A Good Day. This was a cool little flash horror piece I did back when I was just letting myself have a lot of fun with flash fiction and not worrying at all about any of the shit I do now. I rewrite everything a ton but this is one where I think, overall, the core piece really did not change all that much in a way that someone else might notice at the surface, more just neurotic obsession over specific syntax or word choices. I love good horror fiction a lot and this was a definite genre-specific piece. I just liked it. Hopefully you do, too.

 

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