Monday, February 5, 2018
The Illustrated Queenfisher
A short story I wrote, “The Illustrated Queenfisher” was just published in Abstract Magazine (I'm digging that art they've paired it up with). Read it here: http://abstractmagazinetv.com/2018/02/05/the-illustrated-queenfisher-by-matt-poll/
Fooled another one, heh heh. I just re-read it, and I hate it now – ugh, I guess that’s normal. I’ve written close to twenty of these “X-files/Twilight Zone” birding tales, it would be cool to put ‘em all together some day.
The inspiration for this story came from the moment when I saw my first Common Kingfisher in Korea way back in 2005. It was hovering over a misty pond at dawn, a beam of sun lighting it up in shades of neon turquoise and orange. For a few seconds, I thought I was looking at an actual fairy.
Admittedly, this story, while about birds, is not exactly about birding. There was a whole birding story arc in the original story, which rambled past 6,000 words and wasn’t close to being done. Not knowing where to go with it, I scrapped it and remolded the best parts into a “flash fiction” story, which generally means 1,000 words or less.
For the writers out there, I would recommend writing a few flashes as a way of salvaging failed ideas, or just as an exercise in trimming the fat from your storytelling (I’ve still got a long way to go on that front). It can be challenging to tell a story in under a thousand words, so it forces you to cut to the chase. For example, in this latest story, I initially spent three paragraphs describing how a character was disheveled and downtrodden, and the troubled life that led him down that road. That cost me about 600 words, so I replaced all that with the word “unshaven,” hoping the reader would fill in the blanks. Another advantage to writing flash fiction is that if the story sucks, you’ve only wasted a day or two on it, instead of a week or two.