Musings on Mash

Waking up to see my work published on a high traffic website always puts me in a good mood. Today, my article,  “Sew Your Story,” was featured on the Mash Blog.

This was particularly meaningful for me because Mash Stories has been an important part of my development as a writer.

Last summer, someone in my writing group asked for feedback on a story she planned to submit to Mash. After being inspired by her story, I paid a visit to Writing a story using three key words seemed like a fun challenge, so I  tried it. The words “Congress, Art, and Jealousy” were the inspiration for the first flash story I ever wrote. It wasn’t very good, and got rejected, but it taught me something important – I could finish something.

I had been writing all my life, but seldom finished what I started. I had two very rough drafts of different novels and dozens of beginnings, scenes and vignettes with no end in sight and half developed plots. Writing flash fiction taught me that not only could I write a story through to its end, but I could also revise it and edit until it was a polished piece.

I kept working on craft. I picked one of my novel drafts and focused on revising it. That is where I got the idea for the sewing metaphor discussed in”Sew Your Story.

When I was taking breaks from the novel, I worked on short stories. Some of them were flash, but eventually, I did work my way up to longer shorts.

On my third Mash competition (Halloween, Missile, Common) , my entry, “Above the Influence,” got short-listed.  This was my first fiction publication. Mash had taught me a second lesson. Not only could I finish and polish a story, but I could also do it well enough to published, to be be one of the top twenty-ish stories in a competition with hundreds of entries.

Around the time I got shortlisted, Mash had started a “Mash Club.” Joining cost money (regular submissions were free) but members received detailed feedback, quicker responses and were allowed multiple submissions. I had a lot of ideas for they key words and loved feedback, so I joined.

The next five stories I sent mash (two in that competition and three in the following quarter) got rejected. However, each rejection was followed by two or three pages of extremely detailed feedback from multiple judges. I used that feedback to revise each rejected story, and then I would send it out to another market.

This week, I found out one of those stories was accepted for publication in an anthology that Centum Press plans to publish this summer.  This will be my first piece of fiction to appear in a printed book.

So thank you, Mash stories, for giving me the inspiration, confidence and guidance to dive into the world of flash fiction. And thank you to the writing group members who introduced to Mash, encouraged me to write flash fiction and read/critiqued the rough versions of my stories. You know who you are.