Jonathan Shafer’s Writing Flash Fiction in August. Are You?
Sophie Rosenblum: You recently mentioned on Twitter that you are planning to write a piece of flash fiction for every day in August to prepare for the NANO Fiction contest. How did this idea come about?
Jonathan Shafer: For several years in a row now I’ve said, “Man, I’m totally going to turn something in for the NANO Prize this year!” But then when it comes down to the submission deadline, I always chicken out, lamenting over the fact that I didn’t manage to get anything “ready” in time. So this year I decided to make absolutely sure I had some quality flash fiction ready to go; my logic is that if I write somewhere around thirty pieces this month (which I’m on track to do), then at least two or three of them won’t be terrible. I’m not a statistician or anything, but the odds would seem to be in my favor. Also, I haven’t been serious enough about my writing these last couple of years, and I’m hoping that this flash marathon will help kick start my creative juice flow. I’m trying to get back into the habit of flexing my creative muscles.
SR: How did you first find out about NANO Fiction?
JS: I was an undergrad at the University of Houston when NANO Fiction first started up, and I think I heard another lit major mention that there was a new flash journal out there; at that point I don’t think I’d ever even heard of flash fiction before, and the idea of it was fascinating. I think it might be the perfect literary form for me, because without strict limitations I can get really long-winded and out of control.
SR: Who are some of your favorite writers?
JS: It’s a little embarrassing, but my list of favorites reads like a supremely stodgy high school literature curriculum; the authors I come back to over and over again include Poe, Melville, and Fitzgerald, but Flannery O’ Connor is my absolute favorite. She’s the single writer whose style and sensibility most influences what I set out to do when I write a story. I also love James Salter, and Junot Diaz, and Denis Johnson, but every couple of years I take the time to read all of O’ Connor’s short stories again, and they never fail to startle me. That’s the kind of writer I aspire to be.