Though I’ve worked hard over the years to learn brevity in my writing, using November as an annual, personal boot camp for flash fiction, I’ve yet to find brevity in other areas of my life.
At present, I’m struggling to put together a fifteen page portfolio for a writer’s grant. The portfolio can contain any representative, polished work I wish to share, but it must be double-spaced, which means there’s little room to work in. I’m sitting here attempting to determine what will work best, given what I know of the grant committee’s past choices. Clearly, they look for depth and diversity, but do they appreciate whimsy? Humor? Drama?
I have a short list that fits into twenty-four pages and not fifteen, but the stories my daughter thinks ought to go in, still don’t make the cut (sixteen and a half). While I have a few days yet to complete the portfolio, I doubt I’ll ever know what’s right.
The short list contains:
- Dependable (2.5 pages, fantasy)
- We Are All Made of Stories (4.5 pages, speculative)
- Marshmallows and Spider Webs (5 pages, fable)
- The Daring Adventures of Captain Rafe Burley (3 pages, sci-fi humor)
- Cheese (4 pages, sci-fi drama)
- Chapter 0 of The Grasp of Time, (6 pages, slipstream)
In terms of depth, “Dependable” might not cut it, but it’s a quick and smirking story that was an immediate “Yes!” when I considered my list of short stories. It’s hard to think of cutting it, but it’s clearly not the deepest. The Grasp of Time is planned for publication in November, but it isn’t a solo work. If I want to go with a deeper book sample, I ought to go with Cress and the Medicine Show, but how to fit that in? But with Cress, I don’t need “Marshmallows.” See?
Brevity can be anxiety-inducing. Rather like reducing the volume of books on my shelves. Hours of nail biting, heartbreak, and guilt.