Absconding the Napkin Fiction, Sort Of

I love Esquire’s web site, especially the fiction area. Good reads, very edgy. During my last visit, I noticed the Napkin Fiction page, where authors are asked to pen a story on a paper napkin.

In the good old days when I was 1. poor, 2. a teenager, and 3. in love, I used to write song lyrics and poems on napkins. And Taco Bell wrappers. And the paper a bottle of Metaxa comes in. And the back of my NSP bill (that’s the power company in Minnesota). And I know this because I still have these remnants of my misbegotten prose in my hope chest.

We know from the archeological data that I ate fast food, was plenty high and my heat was on, necessary in St. Paul in January.

I’m terrible when it comes to condensation. I love to blather on and on about the inconsequential, which is the gong of death for a writer. I have a very difficult time writing flash fiction or stories in 1,000 words or less. The first time I wrote a 50-word story, it ended up being six 50-word stories. You can imagine the pain I was in writing a six-word story.

Today, I decided to initiate my own enforced short fiction experiment, using the Napkin Fiction as a guide. I find modern paper napkins highly undesirable for writing. They’re cheaply made and only a very good ball point pen would not rip it to shreds. Paper towels absorb too much ink. I don’t eat at Taco Bell much anymore (too salty for my tastes) and I’m a slob and can’t believe I actually finished a combo burrito without dripping any green sauce on the wrappings or on my lap. (Back in 1975, I was always hungry. Not much was going to escape.)

Instead, I decided to take over one of my daughter’s never-used spiral notebooks from high school. It has a pretty green and pink cover and the pages are perforated. It’s small enough to carry around with me.

I have dubbed this experiment The One Page Stories.

The stories are limited to one sheaf of paper. I can use both sides, and I can condense my handwriting to get as much info as I can on the paper, meaning margins  are used and my teeny-weeny penmanship employed. (Teeny-weeny handwriting was da bomb when I was in college and the profs would let us bring in a single sheet of notes for the final. Yeah…I was on that one.)

The One Big Rule for One Page Stories is that once I start, I can’t stop until the story is finished. This is a tough rule for a chronic procrastinator and a sufferer of adult onset ADD.

Yesterday I wrote a quick one, then transferred it to my computer. It was quirky and odd, an elementary aged story – 599 words. I liked it.

I think I might have something here.


3 Responses

  1. I like the idea of doing this, because I am the queen of unfinished stories. I am good at first lines, first paragraphs, and sometimes first chapters. Getting beyond that is the problem.
    I would like to read some of your petite pieces.

  2. I’m probably going to post one in a day or so. I want to make sure I have more than one before I post it. I’m the queen of starting something and then flitting on to something else.


  3. Yeah, I used to love your songs in highschool. I always thought you’d go farther with writing than I would, and did. Keep it up. Someday a saint, or the blessed mother will come and guide you.
    Do you still play guitar?…

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