It rarely gets published. It garners no awards. It isn't really considered the creme de la creme of literary endeavors. But no matter the lack of love shown to it, I still adore super-short fiction.
One of my reasons why is the curtailed length itself. Novels give you a municipality on which to erect characters and plots and themes. Short stories provide a football field or two. But flash fiction (or the short short or whatever moniker you want to bestow upon it) requires you to construct a narrative on the compositional equivalent of your back yard. Difficult, yes, but there's a peculiar joy in reading such pieces, in discovering small structures with straight supports, squared walls and every inch of floor space well used.
And creating these stories provides just as much delight as consuming them. Challenging yet quickly realized, concise but full of possibilities, short projects marry the technicalities of the form with easy achievability. One moment you're laboring over word choice and sentence structure (which become a whole lot more important in a small space), and the next, hey, you're done! A worthwhile match, even if it doesn't often play with publishers.
A (Hopefully) Informative Postscript: One of the very few markets willing to touch the most abbreviated flash fiction is Weird Tales. The magazine's "One-Minute Weird Tales" section features tiny little stories from 20 to 150 words long. Read more about it at their Web site.
A Slightly Self-Serving Post-Postscript: If all this talk about the short short has piqued your interest, consider joining B. Nagel, myself and a bevy of fine folks who have signed on for Shared Storytelling: Six Birds. We provide the prompt, and you give us the narrative. The posting deadline is April 10, so email us at ISawLightningFall [at] gmail [dot] com and BNagelBlog [at] gmail [dot] com if you'd like to join in.
(Picture: CC 2008 by Tina Vega)