Today’s guest on The Column is SHADY COSGROVE whose microlit has been published in Out of Place, edited by Kirsten Tranter and Linda Godfrey. To grab your copy of this latest anthology from Spineless Wonders, click the cover below.
What inspired you to write the piece of microliterature which will appear in Out of Place? How would you describe this form of writing?
I was inspired to write this piece after an incredible 10-day trip to China. It turned out to be one of the most expanding times of my life – I was blown away by how generous, kind, and interesting the people were. And I was also floored by the food. Usually my microfictions are fictional but this is absolutely 100% true. In fact, the friend I write about is visiting me here, in Australia, arriving this afternoon. I can’t remember being this excited for quite awhile.
How do you know the point at which a piece you are writing should end? Do you have any favourite closing line/s from your own work or from another writer? If so, which ones and why?
I have trouble with endings in microfictions because usually there needs to be some kind of reversal. The ending should help us think about the story in a different light. This can be challenging. But one of my strategies is to start from the end and plot backwards, then go ahead and write the story from the beginning. This ensures we’re headed somewhere in the story.
Tell us about some of the writers that you’ve loved in the past and who you are reading now.
Right now, I’m reading the Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. I’m not sure if they’re microfictions or prose poems sometimes! Maybe they’re meditations. I find them interesting because she’s able to capture complex ideas as stories and they stay with me long after I’ve finished reading them. I find they don’t take me to another world – something I enjoy with longer fiction – but they give me pause to stop and consider.
There’s only one thing to do if you haven’t written for awhile and you want to get back into it: force yourself to sit in front of the computer. If I make myself sit there, with the screen, for at least an hour, I find I’m able to get back into the rhythm and flow, especially if I’ve been thinking through ideas in my head. It’s perseverance more than anything. Re writing exercises: I love to log onto thisamericanlife.org and listen to one of the episodes and then imagine one of the people interviewed as a minor character in one of my stories.
SHADY COSGROVE is the author of What the Ground Can’t Hold (Picador, 2013) and She Played Elvis (2009), which was shortlisted for the Australian Vogel Award. Her short fiction has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Overland, Antipodes and Southerly.