Thursday, March 01, 2012


How I came to write OLD SCHOOL,

Dan O'Shea

How did I come to write this collection? You got a lot of nerve asking Patti, ‘cause when you get down to it, it’s your own damn fault.

Up until a couple years ago, I’d never written any short fiction. None. Zip, zero, zilch. Hell, up until maybe five years ago, I hadn’t written any fiction at all, not really.

Always wanted to be a writer, only problem being I already was one. Had a pretty comfortable career freelancing, business and financial writing, mostly about taxes. Writing fiction on spec? Told myself I didn’t have time. Told myself I couldn’t blow hours I should be investing in paying work on fun and games.

Told myself all sorts of crap to justify pissing on my own dreams.

Shit happened. I got older. People I cared about died. It sunk in that anything they hadn’t gotten around to doing, any dreams they’d skipped because they needed another paycheck, those died with them.

So I made the time and I wrote.

But I wasn’t weaned in this online writing world I’ve discovered since. I didn’t know about any of the e-zines, the flash fiction contests, none of that. My education concerning the market for fiction was what I saw on the shelves at the local Borders. All I saw there were novels. So I wrote one.

Fortunately, an agent liked it – Stacia Decker. So I signed with her, and she was the one that told me I should think about Twitter and blogs and Facebook. Well, OK, I knew about Facebook, but as far as I was concerned, that was just a way to recon any boys that might be sniffing around my teenage daughter.

And that’s how I met you, Patti.

I was just getting my feet wet in this new virtual world when you tossed out this flash fiction challenge. Write a story, a thousand words or less, something to do with Walmart.

A thousand words? That’s crazy. I had this novel mindset. It was all I knew. But I gave it a shot.

Here’s what I learned.

You can tell a hell of a story in a thousand words, but you have to break some bad habits. Gotta turn the verbosity meter all the way down. Gotta have a damn clear idea, and then get to the point in a straight line. Because that wiggle room you have when you’ve got 100K words to play with? That’s all gone.

That first story, Black Friday? People liked it. Hell, I liked it. Then you and Steve Weddle went and pulled that Discount Noir anthology together and it got included in there. That was pretty cool.


Dana King said...

"Black Friday" is a kickass story. I've read a lot of Dan's flash fiction, both in response to challenges here, and others on his own blog. This will be a good collection.

Rob Kitchin said...

Glad you caught the flash fiction bug. Enjoying Old School. It's a great collection.