Writer Francine Witte will be joining Nancy and me in Grand Lake for our High Altitude Inspiration Retreat. We’re so excited to have her! Francine took some time to chat with me about all things flash.
Hi Francine! First off, I’m interested to know if you’ve ever visited Colorado before.
I have been in Colorado several times. The first time was when I hitchhiked cross country and stayed in a commune in Boulder for a few days. My boyfriend and I broke up there, and I certainly didn’t want to hitchhike back alone, so my parents wired me money, and I took my very first airplane ride. Most recently, I was in Denver for the 2010 AWP conference. Colorado is so beautiful, and I am looking forward to returning this summer.
You have a fascinating history with the state then. What do you hope to get from our upcoming retreat?
Living in New York City, I am seldom around nature and open sky. So there’s that. And I am really looking forward to having nothing to think about but flash, flash, flash for a couple of days. I am also going to welcome the community of other flash fiction writers. I know many poets in my not-virtual life, but most of the flash fiction writers I know are from Facebook and Twitter. It will be nice to speak in more than 140 characters. (Though with flash, who knows?)
What is a favorite flash of your own?
I like my flash “How to Teach Your Cat to Talk.” It appeared in Jellyfish on October 8, 2018.
Ooh, I love this flash, especially:
“Place his little cat paws against your throat. You don’t like anything touching your throat, but get over it. Your husband is hundreds of miles from here. Make sounds so that your cat can feel the vibrations. Tell him that this is what talking will feel like. Compare it to how the house felt, shaking like a fist.”
What lessons about writing did you learn from being a high school teacher for 20 years?
I learned to write quickly and in small bits. As a teacher, you learn to “monitor and adjust.” There’s a fire drill in fifth period, so your lesson has to change. Half the class is on a field trip, so your lesson has to change. Nobody understood what you were talking about yesterday, so… Well, I learned to apply that to my writing. Go with the flow. Your stories can change right there in the middle. You might only have ten minutes to write. You just always have to monitor and adjust. This is one of the things I like best about flash. You can do a lot in a short amount of time, and flash allows for sudden changes.
That’s so interesting about learning to “go with the flow.” Seems like that would transfer nicely to all aspects of life, including flash writing. Thanks so much for chatting, Francine. We look forward to seeing you in Grand Lake this summer!
Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks, two flash fiction chapbooks, and the full-length poetry collections Café Crazy (Kelsay Books) and the forthcoming The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books) Her play, Love is a Bad Neighborhood, was produced in NYC this past December. Her Novella-in-Flash, The Way of the Wind, is forthcoming from Ad Hoc Press. She lives in NYC.
Note: A (very) few spaces remain for our beautiful Grand Lake Retreat. We’d love to have you join us for four days of writing and workshopping and inspiration in the Colorado Rockies!