How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?
When I was in the fourth grade, I worked on the school magazine with Mrs. Charlotte Sirota, who later became my sixth grade teacher. Due to illness, she had only half of a lung left, and asked us not to make her yell. During that time, I first developed my ambition to become a writer. Even though I was already something of a juvenile delinquent, Mrs. Sirota was very kind to me.
What inspired you to write flash fiction?
In a ten year period, I wrote six novels. I secured a reputable NY agent, but he couldn’t get me a publishing contract. I decided to go back to writing short stories, which I’d had some success with. I also started writing poems, which I hadn’t done since college. As a reader, I started feeling like novels had way too many words—they were a burden. Writing short stories devolved to writing flash fictions. I like getting in and getting out fast, so different from writing novels. Flash fiction fits my attention span, and getting a lot of them published provides operant conditioning (rewards) for me to continue. My behavior, like the behavior of all humans, is rather rat-like in that way.
Describe your writing process.
When I was writing novels, I suffered from early waking insomnia, so I started writing at four a.m. and worked until about noon. Actually I had a requirement for myself: two thousand words per day. Now, with poems and flash fiction, I write whenever I have the time. I do write every day, but I’d hate to write every day if it were an obligation. Some writers are so grim about discipline. Writing should not be made into work—it is play.
What was the inspiration behind what was published on FewerThan500.com?
A lot of my work is quasi-autobiographical, but that’s less true with these pieces. I don’t work from “inspiration.” I begin writing and then I get “inspired” by whatever bubbles up from my subconscious mind. Younger writers tend to focus on “inspiration.” Old farts like me just work. As Mailer and Updike said, professionals just work (or rather, play).
What are you working on now?
Lots of flash fictions, one at a time.