I am writing regularly, and have a goal. The goal is to write one hundred 100-word short stories by the end of 2012. This is perfect. It’s a semi-big project, but is by its nature it’s one that’s divided into tiny chunks. Teeny-tiny chunks. This makes the project significantly less daunting.
There is no need for an over-arching theme; the stories are all self contained. They can be funny, touching, morbid, scary, erotic, or anything else I like. There is lots of freedom and I won’t get bored. I’m motivated to find the time required to do them.
My goal requires writing almost two of these gems a week. This puts enough pressure on me to keep at it, but not so much as to overwhelm me. I already decided that if there are some klunkers in the bunch at the end of the year, that’s OK. I’ll try to make them good, but I can’t get too perfectionistic about it if I’m going to crank out a hundred.
I became interested in this fiction genre after winning a local tabloid’s 101-word short story contest with the following story:
Anger and science make a dangerous cocktail. Like at MIT’s centennial anniversary celebration when Beth, in a tequila-besotted rage, swiped a Q-tip inside my cheek and vowed to turn me into a fruit fly. I should have taken her seriously but I just chalked it up to professional envy and shuffled back to my bench. Today, hovering above her laptop, I watch with disbelief as Beth writes up my research as her own. And though my thoughts come more slowly now, it dawns on me that even in this form I can exact revenge. I dive into her frosty margarita.
Not unlike writing poetry and song lyrics, these things can be tricky, and the economy of language required places special constraints and demands on the writer. But these are puzzles I enjoy working out.
Now that I’ve committed myself publicly to this task, it will be hard not to do it. I’m boxed in. I would hate to receive the critical comments and ridicule that failure would surely generate. I will also undoubtedly learn more about my writing process as I engage with this goal, week after week.