Monthly Archives: February 2012

MFA Frustrations: One-Page Fiction that Should Have Been Longer

Last semester, we had to write a one-page fiction for our last day of class. I was leaving to Beirut that same night, and really needed to finish packing. I was also extremely frustrated with this assignment. What story could I possibly tell in one page? Honestly, I just wanted to be on that plane going back home. So I tried to figure out a way to do the assignment without really doing it. My own little, last-minute rebellion. This is what came out:

 

One-Page Fiction that Should Have Been Longer

 

She sat down to write a one-page fiction. It seemed like an impossible task, and she remembered that quote about how one needs one hour to write twenty pages, and twenty hours to write a single page. She hoped to God that whoever said that was lying. She didn’t want to write one-page fictions, she wanted to give birth to one hundred years of tracing the history of the Buendia family, she wanted as many characters as the Old Testament. They would even live longer. Her characters would suddenly become part of a tree, they wouldn’t die, but simply fly right up to heaven. If one of her characters gets shot, his blood would spill and trace its way back all the way home. They would not get lost in the desert for forty years, they would choose to stay there for that long. She would send them sweet commandments, commandments to kiss their children before they sleep, a few “thou shalt make love to your wife daily”, and end it by ordering the people to drink copious amounts of wine. May your wine be fruity and multiply!

She could not imagine fitting all of this in a one-page fiction. Where would the other characters go? The ones who did not make it into the Old Testament because they did not have long hair, they were not the twelfth or thirteenth child, they could not marry a beautiful pagan wife and when they tapped a rock with their cane, nothing ever really happened. Worst of all, they did not have Latin American names. Marquez and God, or whoever wrote the Old Testament, really did not want to include these characters in their stories. So these characters wandered, they waited, maybe some mediocre writers would pick them up and use them in one-page fictions that they wished were much longer.

She was certain now. There was no way she could write a one-page fiction. She wondered whether she should just not show up to class, or take a page from one of her longer stories and “make it stand on its own” or whatever is expected of a story. She would take that one page and put it among the sea of other one-page fictions and hope that hers would manage to stay afloat between the pages that may have taken twenty hours to write. Her characters could wait till next semester, in a desert or strapped to a tree.

 

Dima Matta

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