I'm looking at Flash Fiction, but specifically the ability of Flash Fiction to investigate and illuminate deep issues, such as identity and ambiguity. At the moment I'm researching identity. Today I came across this in one of my references.
‘We identify three properties of stories that broaden our understanding of their role in family development. First, story telling is an act, through the process of which children learn to become competent narrators. Second, stories also have a message, such that children and adults may receive valuable lessons from them, often ones consistent with cultural mores. Finally, stories aid in the creation of a personal identity that evolves over time and integrates lived experiences with meaning-making processes.’ (Pratt & Fiese, 2004, p.1)
So, have a think about your family stories, the ones you heard when you were little, the ones you've heard over and over, maybe because they're funny, maybe because they say something about that family members involved, or about your family culture. Maybe they were told to teach you something about an aspect of life? What did you learn from how stories where told to you as a child, has this influenced how you tell stories?
My own experience is highly influenced by my mothers Icelandic heritage and by the folklore she heard as a child and passed onto me. I know how I write is different to many of my peers because people have told me I have a very distinct style. Until I started researching family story telling I didn't realise I might tell stories in a distinct way, but now I see that is true.
A lot of flash fiction has a particular voice. This voice is often gritty, hard, dirty, inense. My own voice picks up elements of that, but at the same time I know I blend with that the ethereal voice of Icelandic folklore and adventure tales. Icelandic stories are often ambiguous - they describe fantastical events in an everyday tone and you can not be sure if the narrator is pulling your leg or telling the truth as she or he knows it. Flash fiction is also ambiguous, and so using flash as the mode of narration for my families stories seemed like a perfect compliment.
By writing an anthology of family stories I hope to build an overview of my family's culture and shared themes. Some of these themes are national these, others are particular to my family, and some I have integrated into my personal identity - as we all do according to narrative identity theory.
Cool, huh? I think so!