How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?
One quotation I’ve always loved is Saul Bellow’s observation that “A writer is a reader moved to emulation,” and there is a moment that I can recall when, as an overconfident teen, I looked up from the novel I was reading and declared to my mother “I think it’s time that I start to write my own novels.” I say “overconfident” because it’s taken me about 20 years since that moment to put together what I think might — might — eventually turn out to be a decent novel.
What inspired you to write flash fiction?
When I was a student in the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California, one of my best teachers was Janet Fitch. In her Fiction Writing Workshop, she would assign us to draft a two-page story — about 500 words — every week in response to a one-word prompt. (She still posts her personal responses to these prompts on her blog, janetfitchwrites.wordpress.com, in the category “The Word: Stories.”) Honestly, at the time, I had no idea that flash fiction would later turn out to be my preferred form. My concentration in the MPW Program was actually on creative nonfiction, and I was mostly toiling away at — of all things — a humorous history of male cheerleaders I had christened Gimme an X! Gimme a Y! After I graduated and started to teach at the college level myself, however, I returned to flash fiction because of practical considerations: Even when the stacks of student stories, scripts, and essays I need to grade seem mountainous, I can almost always carve out the time to write the first draft of a flash.
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