So, once you’ve read your way through Catsignal — all the fiction, all the haiku, all the odds and ends that have crept into this site — you could click over to this page at Esquire’s website and read stories that were written on napkins.
It’s an intriguing idea. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s a reminder for me that web fiction is by both necessity and definition short. Attention spans are measured in pixels and picoseconds, not pages and “perhaps just one more chapter.” I’ve been writing longer stories lately, which I have actually felt just the tiniest bit guilty about, feeling as though I don’t at present possess the discipline required to write something of 500 words or less. (And what would Freud make of writers trying to write shorter and narrower stories rather than longer and broader ones?)
There’s something charming about the idea of writing a whole, entire story on a napkin. It has a reductionist appeal, declaring that something worthwhile and beautiful can be done so simply and with such humble materials. And it forces one to write tightly, unless the last words one comes to are: “Continued on next napkin.”
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Speaking of reductionism, this is the last Friday Pen to Paper. Catsignal will be a Monday through Thursday blog, starting with Pen to Paper, then a haiku, a quote, and finishing up on Thursdays with some fiction. Sorry, but I need that time back for other projects.