I blame Jan Carson.
In May 2017, Jan published a wonderful little book called Postcard Stories. Every day for a full year Jan wrote a story on the back of a postcard and sent it to a friend, and Postcard Stories is a collection of the highlights. I devoured this book, struck by the powerful simplicity of Jan’s stories – stories that moved me, made me laugh and made me think, all in less than 300 words – and was inspired to attempt my own short fiction challenge, as a fun way of exercising my writing muscles and relearning the discipline of writing every day.
Because I am neither as talented nor as industrious as Jan Carson, I set myself a more modest challenge – to write a piece of micro fiction (i.e. 250 words or less) every day for the month of June 2017, inspired by something experienced on the day of writing. To give me an extra push in the right direction, I also decided to publish a few of these stories at the end of each week via a blog post.
Short fiction was a brand new experiment for me, and the challenge was both fun and frustrating. I wrote about winged girls, abandoned shoes, time travellers, depressed cats, TV ghosts, floor sweepers, storytellers, compulsive hoarders and cream buns. Some of the stories were extremely brief (the shortest was only 29 words) and others technically sat outside the boundaries of micro fiction by clocking in at over 300 words.
Since I stole Jan’s idea, I thought I’d better not steal her title too, so I called these stories Polaroid Prose, because – stick with me here – they’re designed to be relatively quick and fun to write (and, hopefully, to read), and they’re snapshots of particular events, moments or feelings. Like Polaroids.