What a wonderful day! We woke to a dusting of beautiful white snow light enough I could almost blow it from the sidewalk. This afternoon I indulged my creativity with friends  at a local pottery store. Most exciting, however, was that an inbox message from a friend offered an important insight into the book I’m working on based on my great-aunt Hattie’s diaries.

photo of Hattie WhitcherA quick reminder: I’m transcribing diary entries from my great-aunt Hattie, who was born in 1881 in Dakota Territory and who wrote daily entries from 1920-1957 while she lived on the Rosebud Reservation. I’m also working on a book that tells her life in the form of loosely connected short stories (think of Olive Kitteridge meets Half Broke Horses), and I’ve been trying to think of how to share here small tastes of what I’m working on.

The answer came from yesterday’s post and this morning’s inbox message: flash fiction.

Much of what I’m writing for myself as I choose parts of the diaries to excerpt and narrate is in the form of flash fiction—except it’s not entirely fiction. It’s also not really memoir, although it reads as though Hattie is telling her own story at times (and I think of her as my co-author). Is there a name for what I’m writing? Flash Narrative? Does anyone know?

In any case, once a week or so beginning on Tuesday, I’ll be sharing here flash narratives (for want of a better term) of my work in progress. Below is an entry from this date, 77 years ago, to show you the kind of material with which I’m working (Will is Hattie’s husband, Maggie her live-in helper since Hattie broke her leg the year before, and Fritz and Ben farm help). How would you write a flash piece, fiction or otherwise, about cow chip heat?

February 26, 1934: Was real cold in the night, 24 below, after sunrise bright and ground was covered with snow. My throat hurt all night and yet today and I felt miserable all over, only played solitaire, read magazines, played pitch in forenoon with Maggie against Fritz and Ben. While Maggie got dinner, Will and I played rummy and again after supper with Fritz and Will. Maggie got the meals and did all the necessary work.

Fritz gave the stock hay from the east end of the big stack of alfalfa. Ben, Fritz and Will cut wood after dinner. Ben took a Red Cross quilt home, for he got so cold in bed last night that he had to get up at 4 a.m. and build a fire. He burns cow-chips, so not much heat at that. Noble Moore, Jr. went by to the store and back home again. The temperature never got more than 12 above, but the sun shone bright, was hard on the eyes.