Mon 25 Apr 2011
Romit Berger placed second in the String-of-10 THREE Flash Fiction Contest sponsored in February 2011 by Flash Fiction Chronicles. The contest challenge was to use four out of ten prompt words in a 250 or fewer word story. Those words were: DUST-SUSPECT-VIRGIN-COOL THINGS-CRACKLING-UNWRITTEN-FEEDER-QUARREL-DOGGED-JAM. An aphorism was provided for inspiration, but not necessarily to be used in the story. Here is the one for this contest: A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes. –Mohandas Gandhi
To find out more about the contest, go to String-of-20 THREE Winners.
TODAY SHE WILL WRITE COOL THINGS
Fiction by Romit Berger
angled orbs of dusty words roll in the desert of her thoughts – her inner Wild West ghost town. She chases elusive unwritten verse, fugitive story schemes. Riding high, her spinning cerebral lariat might ensnare exotic phrases, peacocky opening lines. Riding low, she tries to lure tiny gaunt creatures into her barren mind-cave. They eye her with suspicion and vanish into the dark.
Ghost town. No music. No saloon girls. No drunken laughter.
Most days, the bucket of virgin hope will emerge empty from the bottom of her inspiration well, its rusty chain crackling, its form echoing hollow against the cold stone.
But sometimes, her mind is a feeder – all life thrives on her ranch. Fertile bovines jam her shed’s door, bursting out to luscious meadows. Crops quarrel to ripen in her fields. She is dogged on reaping a bounteous harvest today.
Interview with Romit Berger
Interviewed by Michelle Reale
Flash Fiction Chronicles: Tell us a bit about the evolution of this piece.
RB: I am not a born writer. I always find it difficult to start writing and develop a story.
The morning I wrote my piece I was contemplating what to write for our next writing group session. I was frustrated with not being able to come up with anything and the phrase that formed itself in my mind was: The desert of her thoughts. Then I sat down to read emails and discovered that a friend from our writing group sent me a link for the String-of-10 Flash Fiction Contest.
That day the ten words you listed for the contest were like a gift sent ‘from above’ to enable me to describe precisely how I feel about the difficulty of writing. I could clearly see the images in my mind’s eye and put them down in words.
The piece actually wrote itself…
FFC: How does writing to a prompt differ from generating a story from your own idea?
RB: Most times I need a prompt in order to generate a story because my creativity has always been in visual arts and my writing began as an intellectual activity.
FFC: What challenges does the compression in these small pieces create for you, the writer? For the reader?
RB: I find it much easier to write compressed writing pieces than writing long stories. Writing this piece and an enlightening comment received from my friend in the writing group made it ultimately clear to me that this should be my writing style – prose poem or flash fiction. For me, as the writer of such pieces, it is a fascinating creative challenge to find the one exact word that would convey the idea and image I wish to portray, and a wonderful feeling when I do.
It may be more demanding for the reader because every word in the piece bears a heavier load of meaning and imagery.
FFC: All of the winning stories left me wanting more, in part, because all of them had amped-up imagery which kept me engaged. Take one of the images from your story and tell me how it came about.
RB: “The desert of her thoughts” generated the whole piece – it resulted in the images of a “Wild West ghost town” and
the contrasting ”luscious meadows.” And again, I must say that all other words and images just fell into their ‘inevitable’ places…
FFC: Tell me about averages per story. What is the average amount of time to write a story?
RB: 3 hours.
FFC: Average number of words?
FFC: Average number of re-writes?
FFC: Average number of people you share it with for feedback?
FFC: Average number of places you submit one piece at a time?
FFC: Which writers inspire you the most?
RB: Ian McEwan, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jeffrey Eugenides, Kurt Vonnegut, Boris
FFC: Which book have you read that you wished you wrote?
RB: Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Namesake.”
FFC: Make a 30 word “story” with the following words:
· cough drop
· hair band
RB: Say “May I?”
Ginger fireworks in a hair band, her bikini sprayed with cough-drop-size spots matching the Dalmatian’s coat. Sun-struck waves caressing.
“Say cheese,” he rags.
FFC: Have the last word: Give us your thoughts on being one of the winners—and again, congratulations!
Delightful surprise, a sense of accomplishment, an immediate desire to write more—and thanks!
Romit Berger is a graphic designer and artist, living in Prague for the past ten years. In 2008 she joined a writing group – “Morning” is the first piece she ever wrote. English is not her native language but she graduated from an international school, so it has been a part of her life ever since.
She feels that the dual process of finding words to describe mind images and illustrating written words, opens a new exciting dimension of creativity for her. Her work can be seen on www.romitcom.com