I was invited to write a 200-word short story to be included in an anthology of microfiction called Landmarks, edited by Cassandra Atherton and published in 2017 by Spineless Wonders. While the writing of short stories requires combining economy and evocation, brevity and resonance, being confined to 200 words was for me even more difficult, and an interesting exercise in precision and exactitude. Here's the outcome, a humorous piece of metafiction called 'The Bright Silver Pin':
A prize-winning, best-selling and internationally acclaimed writer once pronounced, to general approbation, that "if a novel was a map of a country, a short story was the bright silver pin that marked the crossroads." Another writer, who'd never won a prize or sold a single copy of his only short story collection, had never received any form of approbation, whether general, colonel or sergeant, and who had always considered narrative (both the longer and shorter forms) to be an unequivocally temporal mode, pondered and puzzled over the use of those spatial metaphors by the prize-winning, best-selling etc etc writer. Did "the bright silver pin" refer to a structural landmark, a means of illuminating our crucial psychological, moral and existential choices in life? And did the writerly act of using said pin presuppose that our life-in-time was essentially comprised of turning-points, crises, epiphanies? In which case, those spatial metaphors were indeed misplaced, since they did not escape the inescapable temporality of our miserable life-in-time. And on re-reading what he had just written, hadn't he, the non-prize-winning etc etc writer, used a tautology in the preceding sentence. Or was it a redundancy?
Self-editing had never been his strong point.