Several years ago I had the honor to interview Dinty W. Moore, professor, writer and editor, on the subject of Flash NonFiction. Dinty is the editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Flash NonFiction. Visit rosemetalpress.com as well as dintywmoore.com for more information.
1. How did you come about deciding to edit The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Flash Nonfiction? What motivated you to take on this project?
I approached Rose Metal Press myself to propose the idea for a Field Guide to Flash Nonfiction, because I was a fan of, and had heard so many positive remarks about, the previous Field Guides to Flash Fiction and Prose Poetry. I thought this third volume was overdue.
2. How did you decide which contributors to include? Which topics?
It was hard to narrow it down, of course, because so many great folks have been publishing nonfiction short shorts, in Brevity, the magazine I publish, and elsewhere. So I went with those folks I knew had written or spoken about the flash form from a craft perspective. I tried to have a mix of styles, and add in people who tend more toward the experimental. It was really a gut call in the end, but most good anthologies work that way, I think.
3. What elements/approaches do you consider the most important in terms of writing flash nonfiction? What is your own writing process?
To me, the most important element is concision: absolute attention to each word, each phrase, each detail, to make sure it builds the mosaic not just in one way, but in multiple ways. A good short short is like a gourmet sauce; it has all of the flavor, all of the spice, all of the aroma of a larger stew, but it has been simmered down to an essence. It is a mistake, I think, to just try to shorten a longer piece, or to take an excerpt. A good flash piece intends to be quick and sharp from the outset.
4. How would you assess the current Flash markets in terms of publishing? What is your advice to flash writers in terms of submissions? Do you recommend any particular publications for submissions?
There are many excellent magazines that feature flash, and many that will publish flash alongside conventional length prose and poetry. Of those that feature flash, a few of my favorites are Sweet, Blip, Alimentum, Fringe Magazine, Defunct, South Loop Review, Flashquake, Diagram, and The Sun’s “Readers Write” section.
5. Who are some of your favorite flash nonfiction writers? Do you have a favorite flash nonfiction piece? Where might we find it so we can read it?
Brenda Miller is wonderful. Also Debra Marquart. (Google these women for their links.) But if I were to list everyone who has done wonderful work, I would need 100 spaces.
6. What is your best advice to writers in general?
Revise, revise, revise. It takes me six or seven drafts to even know what questions I am asking in a piece of writing, and another seven or fourteen drafts to find myself anywhere near a satisfying answer. Writing is not explaining what you already know – it is using language to explore and discover.
7. Do you have favorite websites related to Flash?
8. What other projects are you involved in that you’d like us to know about?
I just completed a book on mindfulness and writing, titled the Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life. I’m rather proud of it.
Thank you, Dinty, for taking the time to chat with our readers. We appreciate your insights and look forward to reading the Field Guide for Flash Nonfiction!
Dinty W. Moore is the author of the memoir Between Panic & Desire (University of Nebraska). His other books include The Accidental Buddhist, Toothpick Men, The Emperor’s Virtual Clothes, and the writing guides, The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life and Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction. Moore has published essays and stories in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Harpers, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, Gettysburg Review, Utne Reader, and Crazyhorse, among numerous other venues. A professor of nonfiction writing at Ohio University, Moore has won many awards for his writing, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction. He edits Brevity, an online journal of flash nonfiction and lives in Athens, Ohio, where he grows heirloom tomatoes and edible dandelions.
Helen (Len) Leatherwood has been teaching writing privately to students in Beverly Hills for the past twenty years. She has received 3 national teacher awards from the Scholastic Artists and Writers Awards, the oldest and most prestigious writing contest for youth in the U.S, as well as a California teaching award for the past eleven years. She is a published writer with numerous pieces in literary journals. She is a Pushcart nominee in fiction. Her work also appears in A Cup of Comfort Cookbook, currently available on Amazon. Her blog, 20 Minutes a Day, can be found at lenleatherwood.wordpress.com.