I’ve got nothing…

5 Jan

New Year and it’s been a while since I updated the Blog. Poblem is – I have nothing. Nothing at all. I’ve been off work for 2 weeks and decided I was going to let everything slide away and just relax a bit. My phone died on Boxing Day and I’ve left it dead for over a week. Cut off from the outside world. I thought it might help recharge the batteries and I could come back swinging (nice mixed metaphor), but no. I’m going to have to try and jump-start my brain somehow between now and Monday.

In the meantime, there’s this – a short essay on poetics I had to do for the MA course. I handed it in in December and it will have been marked by now so I figure I can stick it up here. It builds upon what I’ve been saying about short stories on here for a while and was written in support of my 7″ fiction project:

Poetics in Support of 7″ Fiction

“Short fiction must be microcosmic in nature in order for it to succeed. The aim of all literary work is to strike at elements of universal truth, to uncover resonant themes and ideas that readers are able to identify and engage with. In a novel, these can be extrapolated and propounded logically over several hundred pages, but in short fiction there is only the time to allude, to signify, to pique the reader’s intellect and encourage their perception to move beyond the limited boundaries of the text.

This is even truer of flash fiction. A piece of three or four hundred words does not have sufficient length to allow for elaboration of theme or protracted development of character and narrative. A successful work of flash fiction should therefore present the reader with a single moment, an instant in time, which contains within itself the cause and effect of its own being. Narrative arc is crucial but should not, indeed cannot, be set out in a conventional manner by the author. Instead of a sequence of events that build towards a conclusion, the micro-text needs to bridge the past, present and future in a series of very precisely related incidents. It must replicate, to some extent, the psychological function of awareness there on the page, where disparate stimuli coalesce to form a unified impression.

Linearity in form is therefore counter-productive to the aims of flash fiction. Linearity fails to stimulate the perception of the reader in the way that is required to contextualise the piece as a microcosmic event. The structure should instead replicate that of an explosion, a conceptual big-bang, with an epicentre from which is thrown all manner of wreckage. The point of impact is the immediate present the narrative voice speaks from; strewn about it randomly are the signifiers of causality and consequence.”

I’ll be back with something more interesting at some point, I promise…

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5 Responses to “I’ve got nothing…”

  1. Martin Palmer January 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    Can’t be much more interesting than that fella, very well put! I could see that being in a theory book for sure.

    • Neil Schiller January 6, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

      Thanks Martin. Hopefully it’ll pass the Robert Sheppard marking criteria (my essay on Ern Malley might not)…

      • Martin Palmer January 8, 2013 at 4:07 am #

        I’m sure it will, otherwise there’s no hope for the rest of us!
        The EM was a strange one, the jury’s definitely out…

  2. Neil Schiller January 8, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    I thought the Carey book was quite good. It’s probably the one I’ve enjoyed the most of what we’ve read so far. The Ern Malley study though – that was a slog. Still working on my research project though – only a quarter of the way through at the moment :$

    • Martin Palmer January 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      That far? You’re doing better than me then 😛
      Yeah I thought it was a little too crammed with stuff, like Blake Morisson says, but still different and enjoyable. I’m quite liking white noise, I could imagine Vonnegut saying some of the stuff about American society etc

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