July 31, 2014
An Experiment in Haiku Fiction: The Trashlings
Two of the most influential works in defining my conception of haiku fiction are
by Sherwood Anderson and The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. Winesburg, Ohio
is one of the first examples of the "novel-in-stories" genre, a lengthy
narration told through a series of interconnected short stories. The stories
work as individual pieces, telling the histories of an interesting cast of
characters. Yet they all interrelate to recount the main character's coming of
age. Winesburg, Ohio
The Spoon River Anthology is a collection of poems, and it does not have the "through line" of a novel. But Masters paints the picture of a single small town by presenting us the epitaphs of its citizens. The life stories told in the poems often give different perspectives on the same event. One can only figure out what happened by reading between the lines of two or more versions of the same event -- if there is a "true version" at all.
Inspired by these two works, I'm going to try a writing experiment. I am in the process of writing a sequence of interconnected one hundred word drabbles. I hope to create a consistent world and hopefully an interconnected narrative. Why drabbles? Because I find that the limitation of the hundred word form focuses my creativity. And they're a heck of a lot of fun.
How It Began
My wife and I recently brought a couch to the local landfill. As we lowered it off the truck, a scrap of paper blew into my face. I cursed, snatched it off, and shoved it into my pocket.
I forgot about it until I reached for my keys to drive home. The paper bore words in a black-brown ink. I didn't understand the story at first. Not until we found more scraps of paper.
Together, they speak of a race of creatures living in the landfill. I don't know whether or not the tales are true.
They call themselves Trashlings...