My first encounter with the flash was in 1948, during the Golden Age of Comics when all we kids in Brooklyn, New York, read the super-hero comic books. My favorite was “The Flash” who dressed as the Greek/Roman god Mercury and, though he could not fly like Superman, ran faster than the eye could see. We waited anxiously for the release of the next Flash comic so we could delight in our hero’s vanquishing still again his arch-enemy “The Shade.”
During that same time, Illustrated Classic Comics were also popular. My sisters and I collected them in a huge cardboard box until vacation time when we’d drag the box out of the closet and then dive into masterpiece literature. Years later a college professor of mine in an English Literature course marveled how I was able to discuss so many of the classics. He suspected I may have read so many of those thick tomes, and that amazed him, but the truth was much more believable: I read the comics! Of course, I didn’t share that flash bulletin with him.
Beyond the comics, I believe I’ve been deep into flash writing all my life. It seemed that flash fiction was right up my alley. From the time I can remember, my mother used to say, “We need to tie you up with rope so you sit still!” I was always going somewhere, doing something, moving on to go someplace else, do something else. I’d sit and do my homework, squirming like the proverbial boy with ants in his pants. Sure, I love to read, but only in small doses, something my wife Sharon finds strange. Sharon who can sit and read a novel in just a couple of days!
So I decided, after years of writing short-short stories, to finally write a collection of 164 of them, call it Flashing My Shorts, and submit it to All Things That Matter Press. In January 2010, my book of short-short stories was published.
How short is short-short anyway? Not all writers agree. Just when the consensus appears to be “fiction between 300 and 1,000 words,” someone extends the maximum to as high as 2,000 or the minimum to as brief as Ernest Hemingway’s famous story told in a mere six words, “For Sale--Baby Shoes, Never Worn.”
When it comes right down to it, there are no hard and fast rules about the number of words in a flash piece. Often that is decided by an editor or publisher calling on authors to submit their flash fiction.
If you are looking to read some flash fiction, and you are like me, a reader who can’t sit still, who wants a story, whole and entire, in the space of no more than two pages, visit Amazon.com.
There are plenty of books there to choose from. I would recommend my own:
Salvatore Buttaci is an obsessive-compulsive writer whose work has appeared widely. He was the 2007 recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award. His poems, stories, articles, and letters have appeared widely in publications that include New York Times, U. S. A. Today, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, Cats Magazine, The National Enquirer, Christian Science Monitor, Thinking Ten, Pen 10, and Six Sentences.
A former English instructor at a local community college and middle-school teacher in New Jersey, he retired in 2007 to commit himself to full-time writing.