ABCs of Flash Writing: D is for Details

Posted by on Apr 21, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on ABCs of Flash Writing: D is for Details

The first thing I ever learned about running a marathon was that one of the toughest things to master would be figuring out what to do with your brain for 26.2 miles. I imagine that’s truer today than it was when Pheidippides embarked on his legendary run from Marathon to Athens, all the while determined to carry his message of victory. (This is not to say that the conditions under which that first Marathon took place weren’t more difficult — this is not that story at all. But if poor Pheidippides had taken that run with an iPhone in hand and headphones in ears, all the while trying to switch through music selections and podcasts long enough to distract him through the duration of his journey, his story may have ended much differently.)

So when I made the commitment to train my body for a marathon, the first thing I did was ditch distractions. Now it’s me, the road, and the startling voice of the woman on RunKeeper who cries out from the silence to tell me how many miles I’ve trekked.

I’ve loved this transition for two reasons. First, because it’s helped bring me a sense of mindfulness. When you’re tuned into your breath and focused on the whispers of the muscles in your body, meditation comes naturally. Sure, there comes a point when the whispers become screams and/or pleas for mercy — but even those seem more tolerable when you are at once.

The second reason I love this approach to running is because it lets me tune into the world around me. I start to notice details: Greek letters previously finger-engraved in wet cement outside of the Phi Kappa Sigma frat house; a woman on a stroll with a bright yellow cane in tow; a dog running lovingly alongside his owner, looking up to check on her face every few steps.

When I’m watching these details, stories flow in and out of my head. The fraternity brothers, young, vibrant, and perhaps a little drunk, who made concrete their canvas on a warm spring night. The gray-haired woman, who always woke before the sun, perhaps heading home to her partner after lovingly selecting a few fresh fruits to bring home for their breakfast. The runner and her German Shepherd, who keep each other’s pace without needing any verbal cues to speed up or slow down.

Details are more than facts; they are suggestions. They are results, milestones, artifacts that allow us to enrich our imaginations by tying, in some small way, to our own experience.

That’s what makes details such powerful tools in the mind of a flash writer.

Linsey Jayne is a wave-headed poet with a penchant for jazz who received her MFA in creative writing at Fairfield University. Her writing has been published in such publications as The Standard-TimesThe Dartmouth-Westport Chronicle, and exactly.what. She has served as the chief poetry editor for Mason’s Road, as well as the student editor for the Bryant Literary Review and the opinion section editor of The Archway. Linsey is currently at work on her first collection of poetry, entitled Idle Jive.


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