We are excited to announce a FLASH session on “Flash Fiction & Memoir” October 10, 17, 24 (7 to 9 p.m.). We spoke with instructor Ray Brunt to find out why you should sign up for this class in a flash!
PWN: Why are you looking forward to teaching this class? Is the focus different from other classes you’ve taught?
Ray: I’m looking forward to teaching “Flash Fiction & Memoir” because the pieces will be brief and manageable for everyone to read in class together. When you are writing a short piece, it’s helpful to constrain yourself and put guard rails up, like a word count. It forces you as a writer to distill the story down to its essence. It forces you to write clean. It’s also fun to work with writers who are willing to share their work while encouraging and supporting one another.
PWN: What can students expect from this class?
Ray: We will focus on helping writers find and develop a narrative voice for whatever they are working on, fiction or memoir. If you open up to any page of a book or story by Virginia Wolff or Toni Morrison or Gabriel Garcia Marquez and read a couple of sentences, you would know who wrote them. The narrative voice that writers develop through word choice, cadence, and tone is what distinguishes them. It’s why we want to read them again and again. We will focus on writing up to two pages to a prompt to help develop a narrative voice. We will base those prompts off of selected works of flash fiction or selecting a slice of a story or memoir.
PWN: What writing projects are you working on and what is your process like?
Ray: I’m working on a collection of linked short stories called The Dying Dreams of a Steely Dan Fan. The stories start early in the life of the narrator and continue to his near death. They are hopefully humorous and emotionally charged, and I am experimenting with some different narrative styles, as well. My writing process is always in a state of flux, but generally I have noise-canceling headphones on and need to be left alone. It can take some time to get into that place I need to be in, and I try to stay in the spell as long as possible. I put my writing in a drawer for a couple of days then pull it out and start to rewrite, over and over and over. Then after about a half dozen or more drafts, I read it out loud and then go back to editing. It seems to never end, until suddenly it does.
PWN: What are you listening to these days?
Ray: Right now, I’m listening to “Fast Car,” by Tracy Chapman, which is part of a mix I’ve made that includes Joan Armatrading’s “Show Some Emotion” and Joni Mitchell’s “River.” I always wanted to have a radio show. I think my fascination with doing radio and picking out music for people to listen to ties into writing in some ways. In my writing, I’m always after getting some emotional response from the reader. In picking music, I think you are trying to do something similar.