[Reading Room] Flax-Golden Tales by Erin Morgenstern

Flax-Golden Morgenstern
Every Friday Erin Morgenstern (author of The Night Circus) posts a Flax-Golden Tale: a ten-sentence story inspired by a photograph by Colin Farrell.

The stories themselves range from quirky to thought-provoking to funny and back again. Often the story gives a character to an inanimate object. The narrator’s voice is always strong. The writing is poetic, concise, efficient and a great model for how you might approach a short-short story, yourself.

 Steal From Erin Morgenstern!

Not the words. (That would be plagiarism and that would be bad.) But we can learn from her practice.

  1. She is doing it week after week after week, which is both challenging and freeing. Knowing she doesn’t have to get it right this week (because there is always next week) must be freeing, even as having a weekly deadline is challenging.
  2. The ten-sentence format is wonderful. Knowing that she has to write ten sentences every time removes one of the many, many decisions a writer must face when sitting down to create something out of nothing (and decisions are often barriers to ‘getting stuff done’). Ten sentences is just enough space to tell a tale, but not so much that you get bogged down or lost. It is not intimidating. Setting small goals (except for during May, of course!) is a valid path towards success and fulfillment.
  3. She is doing this for fun and for practice. She seems to have no desire to write these for publication, other than to post them, free, on her site (and I suspect that’s more about commitment and accountability than anything else). Writing for the love of it is something easily lost once you start practicing (and reading websites that urge to to publish, Publish, PUBLISH!)
  4. This is a collaboration. Every week the photographer in the partnership has committed to providing a picture. Every week the writer writes a story. If one of them is having a bad week, their commitment to the other artist is a wonderful incentive to work, instead of waiting for inspiration (or putting off the act until ‘someday’).

What about you? Could you commit to a writing exercise like this? What would yours look like? Would you work with a collaborator? Leave a comment->

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