Archived entries for MemFastFiction

“This is what you learn when you spend a year researching the crazy stuff in Memphis,” Whitten says of the research that went into Memphis Fast Fiction. “If this writing project has taught me anything, it’s that this one spot on the Mississippi has never not been kind of messed up and crazy, starting with the original settlement. Memphis was the most debauched place on the French frontier. Gambling, drinking: There was nothing else for people to do.”

You can pick it up in this week’s print version of the Flyer, or read it on their website here.

Big thanks to Leonard Gill for his support of the project.

It’s a new year. One where the Mayans are supposedly going to kill us all from beyond the grave, or something.

Been quiet around here for a bit.

The site’s been just a numbers station, really. Humming along through the dark of the night, waiting for something to happen, waiting to screech back to life, commanding the sleeper agents to throw off their sham lives and but a bullet in the neck of every apparatchik they can find.

Time to fill the dead air, I think.

You see, my book’s done. Memphis Fast Fiction is dead and in a bag, waiting for the taxidermy of the editing knife to come and pretty it up before I turn it out for publishers to reject. I wrote 365 stories about Memphis in 2011, and I sure as hell thought it was going to drive me mad, but, by God, I did it. Now to see if anyone wants to pay to put the thing to paper.

I heard dead trees are expensive these days.

(Hah, “my book’s done” – now that’s something I never thought I’d get to say.)

And now I’m turning my attention back here. Time to start writing about things that aren’t the city I live in.

There’s a whole big world out there, with mad, wondrous things in it. Time to go exploring.

This is the Brain Release Valve, welcome to the Mayan Death Year.

Spending all my time writing Memphis Fast Fiction right now. Nearly to 275 stories this year. Should hit it before the week is out.

But, once that project is over, I’m eager to get back to doing whatever it was I did around these parts.

See you after the New Year.

The first hundred days are done. More than done, actually. I think I’m about to be into the hundred-teens of it.

While I’ve got you, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I barely remember writing any of them. Like, if you talk to me and mention a key point, I’ll be able to tell you what it was about and what I was thinking, but I’ll be damned if I can name the story I wrote last night or what it was about.

And that’s probably the weirdest thing about the project. I’m learning tons about Memphis, especially the weird in-the-crack bits that fascinate me so much, and I’m learning to be a better writer , BUT, I’m not remembering the stories that I’m learning for and from. They’re like sketches in an artist’s notebook.

Oh, I did hear that the project came up at some kind of official Memphis cultural/business meeting thing. They talked about it as an example of how Memphis isn’t a standard city/market, and we find our own ways to do things.

Yes, I think I would agree that me absolutely losing my mind is my own way of doing things.

Today marks the completion of one month’s worth of Fast Fictions over at www.MemphisFastFiction.com.

The project’s been more or less what I’ve expected, so far. I can feel the edges of my brain starting to fray, but I don’t feel completely overwhelmed, which was a real concern of mine. I think I’ll actually be able to pull this off.

I was originally writing in chunks, where I’d sit down for four or five hours and bang out a half dozen pieces. I’d leave the final review for the day they were supposed to go up, so I felt like I was sticking to the “One-Story-A-Day” bit. But now I am doing the one-a-day from scratch method. Which is a lot riskier, but I feel more rewarding. This is all about me becoming a better writer, and cramming it all into one day then faffing about for the rest of the week wasn’t doing me any good.

So, what’ve I written about?

Well, there’s a good bit of historical stuff in there. Specific period references to people and places. The rest is stuff that takes places in the present, usually referencing things that I’ve experienced, or know about. Bizarrely for me, though, I’ve only written one piece set in the future. I have had a giant robot stomping on downtown, though.

I did get a letter from my Grandmother last week. She wanted to let me know that she was following the project, and that the stories overall were fairly dark. “You and you friends must not all be made out of rainbows and puppy dog tails,” she said.

I’ve tried to lighten things up since then.

Title: Devil on My Side

Word: Hunkered

200 words about the seductive power of feeling:

The room was quiet. They looked to him. He rolled a half-finished cigar between his index finger and thumb, feeling the tobacco crackle under the pressure of his digits. After a moment he looked up at them, cleared his throat and spoke.

“It’s just a storm, boys. An’ we’re gonna do the same thing you do with any storm. We’re gonna get hunkered down some place safe and ride it out. Wait for it to pass.

“Ya see, secret is that we sell somethin’ special. A feelin’. Now, I know that you might think we’re in the booze or gamblin’ or dope or cooze business, but we ain’t. From the second they walk through the doorways of this establishment, any of our establishments, they’re feelin’ something. Feelin’ dangerous, feelin’ risky, feelin’ horny, feelin’ drunk, feelin’ all’a it.

“An’, yes, every few years, some folks get their hackles up ‘bout it. Go all spittin’ an’ yellin’ an’ get all red in the face. Convince the rest of the folk they don’t need none of what we got. But all they’s doin’ is selling their own kind of feelin’.

“Their kind’a feelin’? Ain’t got shit on ours. Just wait an’ see.“

Follow this link to offer up more suggestions.

I, as I am w0nt to do, have had a terrible idea.

You see, I’ve obligated myself to write a 200 word piece of short fiction every day, for all of 2011.

I call it Memphis Fast Fiction, and you can read more about it at the site: http://www.memphisfastfiction.com/

And while you’re there, mind dropping a prompt submission into the form?

I’d appreciate it.



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