Today we have an interview with M.M. Wittle, who has recently published LESSONS NOT WORTH REPEATING, a flash fiction collection. Michelle is also the new Creative Non-Fiction Editor at Fox Chase Review.
First, a few words about her:
M.M. Wittle is a literacy coach by day, an adjunct professor at night, and a writer on days that end with “Y.” Also, she has a serious crush on Abraham Lincoln and would move to Gettysburg, PA in a heart beat. Probably even faster than a heart beat, to be honest.
SARETT: Like me, you’ve written a good deal of flash fiction? What draws you to the super-short form?
WITTLE: I like to punch my reader with something (story/poem/play) and then walk away. Flash fiction is a quick jab to the gut and then a few days later, there is a bruise. (I understand how horrible this sounds. I’m really a peaceful person.)
SARETT: In flash fiction, it seems like the last sentence is all-important (this could be said of short fiction in general.) Do you struggle with your endings?
WITTLE: I struggle with titles more than anything. Sometimes my endings need reworking and sometimes they are, “boom! drop the mic and walk away.”
SARETT: Flash fiction is often considered the ultimate “writer’s form,” which implies that it’s not intended for the “ordinary”reader. What’s your response to this?
WITTLE: What is meant by an ordinary reader? For me, that sounds like someone who picks up the latest James Patterson or other murder/mystery novel. If that’s the case, James Patterson has really small chapters, some are even flash fiction size, so I think the form appeals to people who subscribe to the idea that less is more and really like to chew on the story for a long time after they read the story.
SARETT: I know that you teach writing -- and of course, there are loads of rules about writing. Is there any rule that you secretly enjoy breaking?
WITTLE: I hate dialogue tags (which probably explains why I write plays) and I hate describing things to death. I want the reader to walk with my character and bring whatever the reader needs with him or her self as they enter the world of my characters. Writing is a conversation between writer and reader. The reader doesn’t need to know what undergarments my character is wearing or that the left button is broken. Not unless things are happening with the button or the undergarments.
SARETT: There’s a lot of microfiction and even “tweet” fiction. What’s your POV on tweet fiction -- are we getting, like, too short?
WITTLE: In the right writer’s hands, a great story will be a great story at any length. Even Hemingway had a short story in six words. I would say we aren’t getting too short as long as we are staying away from trends and gimmicks and still producing a great story.
SARETT: Tell us about your new work, LESSONS NOT WORTH REPEATING-- and my compliments on a great title! What drew you to this material?
WITTLE: HA! See, I think I’m horrible at titles. Although this chapbook did have 75 titles before this last one. As I think about the stories in the collection, they all have characters who have a life lesson they have to learn. Most of them do not learn it and will need to find themselves facing the lesson again. I really like the quote (and I’m paraphrasing) history often repeats itself and if we don’t learn from it, we are doomed to repeat it. People come into our lives with something to teach us, whether it is about ourselves, or our purpose in this world, and if we don’t learn the lesson, we will meet that person again just in a different form. Basically when a chick screams “why do I always date the same guy (or girl...I don’t judge)?” it’s because there is something in that type of personality the chick needs to learn.
SARETT: My blog readers are always looking for new books. Are there new short fiction books that you’d recommend? (Please do not mention personal friends. Just a blog policy. I insert links.)
WITTLE: I have been so busy reading summer reading list books for my day job, I’ve hardly had time to read books for myself. I will say I have some still on my shelf, waving at me and screaming, “Summer is coming...pick me up.”
Tomorrowland by Joseph Bates (http://www.josephbates.net/p/2.html )
Flashes of War by Katey Schultz (http://www.kateyschultz.com/p/books.html)
SARETT: Any new projects in the works that you’d like to share with blog readers?
WITTLE: I was just appointed the Creative Non-fiction Editor at the Fox Chase Review http://foxchasereview.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/mm-wittle-appointed-creative-non-fiction-editor-of-fcr/
My play, “Family Guidance” should be in New York in the Winter.
And I’m working on writing a poetry/CNF hybrid chapbook.
You can buy Michelle's flash fiction here:
Connect with Michelle online: