State of Flash — Bylaws of the State of Flash

1. There shall be titles. Titles are everything.
2. Present tense is preferable to past tense. Because friends have told us we should live in the moment.
3. There shall be no names. Anonymity is everything. In any flash fiction piece, decent society, or intimate relationship.
4. Write in the first person plural sometimes. We like that. Plus, it will help with the not naming of things which will help with the not occupying any particular subject position. Yes, we think this will work out quite nicely.
5. We don’t.
6. There shall be birds. Describing the birds is everything.
7. The literal state of flash is Rhode Island, the smallest state.
8. The future tense will not exist. This could be about word efficiency or it could be about that self-help book we read that emphasized living in the moment.
9. War will occur only insomuch as it can be begun and ended generally without long diversions into history or geo-political intrigue, e.g. “There was a war. Now there’s not a war.”
10. Actually, it can’t be Rhode Island because that’s two words, leaving you as little as 298 words for the piece and you’re going to need some of those words to describe the birds.
11. Maybe just don’t have birds. Flash might be a hybrid form, but that doesn’t mean we can’t trade birds to the poets for Russell Edson and a writer to be named later.
12. We will live in the moment.
13. We will.
14. The literal state of flash shall be Canada. In the event Canada is not a state, let’s go with Idaho. They need this.
15. A flock of linked flash pieces shall be known as a “death.” Unless they’re about death in which case they shall be known as a “bummer.”
16. Should currency be produced, Donald Barthelme shall be on the $1 bill and Lydia Davis on the $2.
17. It is highly unlikely the State of Flash will need larger bills.
18. The literal state of prose poetry is obviously New Hampshire.
19. Other things that are states: Louisiana, Oregon, North Dakota, not Puerto Rico, etc.
20. If there shall be names, they should come rapidly with little characterization.
21. We’re worried Doug’s not living in the moment.
22. That wasn’t an example, we really are worried about Doug, especially Claire. Kyle could go either way but don’t tell Mortimer, that jerk.
23. There shall be body parts.
24. Also, bawdy parts.
25. Apparently.
26. There was a woman who lived down the street from us, up the block in a house with a tree out front that held a birds nest we watched nervously as we walked by. There was a woman. Now there’s not a woman. Like how there was a war. Now there’s not a war. Even the birds are gone; the poets took them, or the war.
27. You know who should have written flash fiction?
28. Comics can be flash.
29. Dogs can be flash.
30. Has anyone seen Doug recently?
31. We might have been wrong about comics. Because when you think about it, a flash drawing might just be a Family Circus.
32. The State of Flash is not a democracy. That said, we took a vote and determined that the Family Circus counts as flash only when drawn by Billy.
33. Other things that are comics: Marmaduke, Prince Valiant, not Friends, etc.
34. Dialogue shall be italicized or otherwise unadorned with quotations marks. Quotation marks, while not words you could use to describe where the birds might have gone, are cumbersome and not particularly flashy.
35. Your mom is flash.
36. If we’re being honest, we’re pretty much just looking around the boardroom at this point trying to think about by-laws. Theresa proposed some bi-planes and we laughed a lot until she said, I was serious.
37. The literal sport of flash shall be speed racing. In the event that speed racing is not a real thing, let’s just go with speed chess. Something fast is what we’re getting at here. Flash means fast. It’s on our flag. Or at least it should be.
38. There shall be a flag!
39. Doug is fine, thank god. For now.
40. Oscar Wilde.
41. There shall be metaphors but ones that collapse. Or ones so obvious they work backwards, ruining even the attempt to give them meaning. Because to do it like you might in a novel or story takes space. And we don’t have space. It’s like we’re in a prison cell. But growing, so big we break out and don’t stop growing and eat the sun and are thinking about how nice prison was and how maybe we’ll just kill that disagreeable Mortimer so they send us back there but then they won’t see it because now there’s no sun and all anyone is doing is hugging loved ones, even Mortimer.
42. The literal state of matter is flash. We just think that sounds good, even if it came in second in our flag contest.
43. While we’re being honest, we didn’t really publicize our flag contest as much as we should have.
44. There shall be flash novels. They’ll be called “Novels.”
45. Mary Robison’s Why Did I Ever. That’s a novel.
46. There’s no death penalty in the State of Flash but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mercilessly edit a flash piece or that we’d hold it against someone for killing you if you don’t.
47. Also, Sally Forth. That’s a comic. But not a state. Yet.
48. Moment.
49. Lost moment.
50. The State of Flash reserves the right to secede. Not from fiction, but from Earth. We want to try space Doug knows about lasers and that’s almost rockets. Also, we really don’t know what state means. Flash means fast. We know that much.

Adam Peterson is the co-editor of The Cupboard, and the author of The Flasher and My Untimely Death. His writing can be found in NANO Fiction, The Normal School, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.