A flash response to a flash fiction rant

There are so many predictable aspects to life. The sun will rise. Taxes will come due. James Cameron will gross another billion dollars with a film.

To such predictability I add the yearly email rants I receive about the Million Writers Award excluding flash fiction.

This time, though, I received a rant before the award cycle even begins. In response to my call for more preliminary judges, said ranter emailed that she wouldn't consider volunteering for an award which so blatantly "discriminates" against flash fiction.

I offer no apologies for the award excluding flash fiction. From the start, the award has focused on longer length stories, which our rules define as 1000 words or longer. My rationalization was thus: Since the ephemeral world of online publishing naturally provides a more supportive environment for flash fiction, I wanted this award to support longer stories. I've often said I'd support anyone who wanted to run a flash fiction contest along the lines of the Million Writers Award. But the Million Writers Award will not throw flash fiction and longer short stories into the same award-consideration pot.

At the risk of receiving more rants, I also point people to Jeff Crook's take on the Mississippi Review's new flash fiction issue. Jeff wasn't impressed with their new issue and quotes an essay I wrote almost six years ago, in which I stated "...there is no evidence that short shorts are being read by anyone outside the 'literary' community."

That made me wonder if what I wrote six years ago is still correct. While I continue to enjoy the better examples of flash fiction (including "Mr Cat" by Paul Lisicki, which Jeff rightly names as the highlight of the MR issue), I still don't see any evidence that many people outside the literary community read flash fiction. At least, not when compared with the millions of readers around the world who devour short stories and novel length fiction.

Perhaps I'm wrong, and am overlooking some sea change in flash fiction readership over recent years. If so, please let me know.