High Expectations

This past February I celebrated ten years with Flash Fiction Online.

From the beginning, I distinguished myself as harder than most on the stories I read. It took a great deal to sell me on a story.

Now, here I am, 50 years old, and pondering what it is about myself—the development of my own craft as a writer—that left me so very critical of stories that other writers have poured their entire hearts and souls into. And I realized something: I was raised on music.

My family sang beautiful music with meaningful lyrics. I grew up in a church for which beautiful music is a central part of worship. If done well, if affecting, lyrics are poetry. So, I was raised on poetry. I was raised on rhythm. Those two elements—poetry and rhythm—are an essential part of writing excellent prose. They teach a developing author the importance of choosing each word wisely to impart the greatest impact. They teach an innate sense of sentence structure and the importance of the ‘sound’ of words in our heads as we read to ourselves.

This invariably had an impact on my tastes in literature. I found, quite young, that I enjoyed Dickens and Shakespeare. I became a die-hard fan of Ray Bradbury who exposed me not only to the wonders of speculative fiction but an artistry of words that has always left me breathless. As a child, I didn’t read a whole lot. Odd for someone who has ended up the editor of a fiction magazine. I suspect it was because the offerings my school teachers had for me didn’t hold up to the music and poetry I heard at home. I instinctively yearned for language rich enough to leave a tapestry of words on the tongue.

I brought that yearning with me as, years later, I began my journey into the world of words, of fiction, of editing.

Now, as one who wields power over words and wordsmiths, I have high expectations for the words that will appear on the pages of Flash Fiction Online.  And, I like to think, those expectations have helped make the magazine one that is well-respected in the marketplace.

This month’s stories are, to me, shining examples of the artistry of language I look for.

So play a little Bach or Debussy in the background and allow these authors’ words to trip off the tongue and resound inside the head.

Happy Reading!