(This is the third installment of How I Found Flash Fiction, the fascinating tale of a close friend of mine, Cory Bradley.)
I found myself in Ireland.
I thought a lot about that opening statement. I originally intended simply to remind everyone where we were at on my journey to finding flash fiction. But for those of you predisposed to reading deeper into a writer’s words (like my former-enemy-professor-turned-mentor, Mr. White), then I suppose it could be understood that, in a more spiritual sense, I FOUND myself in Ireland.
Following the spring term, I got a summer job painting houses so I could save enough money to return to school in the fall (no financial aid for me). It was a destructive time in my life, however, and as the days grew longer, my desire to escape my circumstances grew stronger. So rather than go back to school, I quit my job, took the money I had saved and flew as far away as it would get me. Yes, I was that twenty-something cliché; the poor young man, lost in life and tortured with emotional angst who believed a change of scenery would solve all of his problems. It didn’t. In fact, the scenery of the Pacific Northwest where I grew up is disappointingly similar to Ireland, though it has no mountains and far more sheep and castles. Nonetheless, as many had before me, I succumbed to the siren song of the Emerald Isle.
Familiar landscapes aside, Ireland was everything it should have been. I backpacked my way clockwise along the coast, from Dublin to Galway. I stayed in hotels and hostels, in bed-and-breakfasts and rented rooms adjoined to pubs. I was even invited into many residents’ homes: young and old, single, couples and families. I became a part of their lives, even if it was for only the briefest of moments. In true Irish fashion, I sang and danced, drank too much and fell in love more than once. In short, the experiences I collected have been enough to fuel my writing for these past ten years (nearly). Naturally, I didn’t immediately recognize the potential for such great stories. No, that realization did not come until I received the email mentioned in Part 2, a notification from Mr. White that my short story, “I Wake Up Running” was accepted for publication. THAT was the moment I knew what I was going to do.
The thrill of publication convinced me immediately, sitting in that dingy Internet Café (remember those?), that I was going write a story based on my time in Ireland. Would I continue writing short stories, with which I had achieved such blinding success? Foolishness! Why would I do that when I had already conquered the world of short story publication? No no no, when I got back home, I was going to write…A NOVEL!
Cory has recently published several pieces of flash fiction, each taking place within the literary landscape of Auditorium, a city that holds a larger, overarching story. You can find his flash fiction here, here and, most recently, here. Please let us know what you think.