National Flash Fiction Day – Flash Slamming in Oxford

Yesterday, May 16th 2012, as I’m sure we all know by now, was the very first National Flash Fiction Day. Congratulations to Calum Kerr, who devised and organised the whole thing, and to all those who did something to contribute to its success. Articles in national newspapers (and a bit of debate too!), radio slots, live events, anthologies, you name it, it was there. Whether you were starting out in flash or were a seasoned writer, there was something for everyone but fundamentally NFFD has done three things.

Firstly, it’s brought flash fiction to a wider audience. Flash fiction isn’t new, as Tania Hershman pointed out last night in Oxford when she read a wonderful story from Richard Brautigan written in the 1970s, but the last few weeks Flash Fiction seem to have been launched to a wider audience. Yes, there’ll still be people who don’t regard flash fiction as ‘proper’ writing (possibly the same ones who don’t seem to think women can write properly either) but there’s a lot more people now aware that novels are not the be all and end all of fiction and that you don’t just have to write an 80k novel in order to be considered a writer.

Secondly, it’s encouraging people to have a go, either writing for the first time or doing something they might not have thought about before. As an example, Rachel Carter started something for South West writers and before long, it became Flash Fiction South West with a website and an anthology ‘Kissing Frankenstein and Other Stories’ featuring a mix of both experienced and new writers.

Finally, it’s brought the flash fiction community much closer together in both a virtual and real sense. I was very lucky to have found some great writers on Twitter early on when I got back into writing, mainly by chance it has to be said. However, over the last few months, I’ve discovered many more talented people through the site, either directly through things like Flashflood and the Jawbreaker anthology or indirectly through the many offshoots, magazines, events etc which seemed to have coalesced around NFFD. This means more opportunities for writers to show off their talent and more opportunities to read flash fiction.

National Flash-Fiction Day itself was a special day for a number of reasons. My story ‘Kite’ appeared on Flashflood whilst another story ’18’ was published in the very first issue of sixwords which I have to say looks great set against the photograph. In the evening I took part in a ‘Flash Slam’ organised by Dan Holloway along with a dozen other flash fiction writers at the wonderful Albion Beatnik Bookstore  (by the way, forget your Kindle, go and visit it, drink coffee and buy real books that feel and smell wonderful)

Dan and the JudgesI really wanted to meet some of the people I follow on Twitter and this seemed the perfect opportunity. I found it very strange (but equally great) to be greeted by name as I walked through the door. I had been a little nervous in signing up to read one of my stories, especially as the pre-event publicity kicked in but with such a warm welcome, I forgot about being nervous and just enjoyed it.

Listening and reading stories in a group setting was a new experience for me and I took a lot away from the evening to use in the future as well as some talented writers to follow.  Tania Hershman, the Queen of Flash, was as lovely and generous in real life as she is on Twitter and Dan did an amazing job as organiser, host, photographer, time and score keeper. The standard of writing was extremely high and Kevlin Henney took the honours of a competitive but friendly relaxed evening. But, above all, it was about meeting people (with sentences not constrained to 140 characters) and I was especially pleased to meet Rebecca Emin who was one of the very first people I ever followed on Twitter and has been kind to me ever since.

Writing is very much an individual pursuit but last night it felt good to be part of a wider community of writers – flash fiction writers – and, for that alone, National Flash Fiction Day has been a great success. Thank you Calum.

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About Peter Domican
Marketer and change professional. Writer and photographer.

3 Responses to National Flash Fiction Day – Flash Slamming in Oxford

  1. Rachel says:

    I got a thrill – just knowing you were all meeting up last night in various venues. How wonderful it’s all been :o) Thanks for your help with FFSW, Pete

  2. Wish you could’ve been there. It was a great evening. Oh and thanks for the postcard – it arrived today. It was a pleasure to help out.

  3. This is a great blog post, Pete. I was smiling reading all about it. I’m so glad NFFD is going to happen next year too. It was so brilliant to meet you out in the real world.

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