Ernest Hemingway allegedly wrote what is probably the most famous, and shortest, of short stories: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
There is a lot of discussion about whether or not it was Hemingway that actually wrote that but, ultimately, it doesn’t matter. In just six words we are told a complete story. It is one that makes you think, and makes you feel – like a lot of people I find it truly sad because my take on it is that a baby has died, either at birth or at the very least before being able to wear the shoes.
Being able to tell such a story, in so few words – or, to put it another way, in simply thirty three characters – is pretty amazing.
Now, I am in no way trying to compare myself to Hemingway (or whoever did write it, of course) but I have recently been lucky enough to get my own ‘very short story’ published. Nanoism (www.nanoism.net) publishes fiction that is no more than one hundred and forty characters long – that is, for those of you who Tweet, the maximum size of a Twitter message. I tried three times, recently, to get something published by Ben (editor/owner of Nanoism) and while each story was good in its own way it wasn’t good enough.
Nanoism – and writing a complete story with such brevity – became a challenge to me; my own, personal Everest. Finally, yesterday, I got word that I had conquered it. Ben liked my most recent submission – he liked it enough to publish it. I can’t post it here, of course, but if you check out his site on the 16th November 2009 you will be able to see what is my own shortest of short stories.