Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I recently wrote -- in a flurry of re-reading the classics -- two flash fiction pieces based on old Arthurian romances. The first, "Lament of the Fisher King," based on the Percival story by Chretien de Troyes, is out for submission to a market. The second, "The Green Knight's Wife," based on the story of Gawain and the Green Knight, is still waiting patiently to be sent to my critique partners.

The problem, as the aforementioned wise critique partners explained, is that something so specific could have trouble finding a market home. In my personal experience, anyone interested in genre fiction -- sci-fi/fantasy and all their many, many subgenres -- is probably a fan, on some level and to some degree, of Arthuriana, ranging from a passing familiarity and general like of Arthur-based movies and mini-series, to a certain friend of mine, Sir Brit, who wrote a whole thesis paper on the possible source material for Chretien de Troyes. (A very good paper, I might add. I read it.)

Then again, the specifics of Percival and the Fisher King, and of Gawain and the Green Knight, tend to be relegated to the more obscure corners of modern Arthuriana. I'm not writing flash fiction about the Arthur-Guenevere-Lancelot love triangle (barf. And, boring.) or extolling the virtues of the old pagan ways versus those oppressive Christians. I'm writing very quick fiction, 1000 words a piece, from the points of view of characters who appear only briefly in the medieval texts, if at all, and barely have any actual speaking parts. The Percival story was inspired by the question: What happened to the Fisher King and his household after they disappeared when Percival left?

While I'm really enjoying this project, I'm conflicted about whether or not to continue. I want to get these stories out, and they are lots of fun to write, but my writing time is precious and I don't want to waste it doing things no one will want to read because they are too obscure. I might do many more and combine them into one long piece.

Here's an excerpt from "Lament of the Fisher King," followed by an excerpt from my first draft of "The Green Knight's Wife."

"Lament of the Fisher King" (Percival)
     No, I cannot curse Percival for things he could not help.
     And so my thoughts turn, as they must, to whom I must blame for my situation. For sending me and my household to this non-existence that stretches before us like a wasteland.
     On this ship my people sink into despair before my very eyes. No one speaks anymore.              Words are lost in the fog, they have no meaning.
To speak is to hope. 
To hope is to go mad.

"The Green Knight's Wife" (Gawain)

With every clod of earth trampled by the hooves of Gawain's horse, my husband spins further into an anxious frenzy. It is only a matter of time before he turns his sharp tongue on me.
"You know what is expected of you?" His brows furrow, his lips turn down. Spittle flies from his mouth as he speaks.
I nod and lower my gaze. But he will not let me off so easily.
Enormous green fingers grab my jaw in a steel vice and force my chin up. Over the years I have mastered the ability to look at my husband in the submissive way he prefers even while he holds my face upwards. Wet flecks hit my face when he speaks. "Tell me what you will do with Gawain."
"I will seduce him, my lord."


  1. I would continue writing these flash pieces, Meredith. If you enjoy something, just do it. Every writer has the same doubts, as to whether or not a piece will ever find an audience. The most important audience is you. Write a story that you like, that you are proud of, and then you’ll know you’re giving it your best. If the heart is involved, then your piece matters, regardless of what others think. Write ‘em and send ‘em out.

  2. As usual, you are right, Tony. I need to just write 'em. Scratch that itch, as it were.