Just Over One Year Ago Today

... the Hint Fiction anthology was released into the world (or, at least, the United States). Like any writer, I was nervous. I knew the book would have a lot of critics, especially those die hard traditionalists who always think themselves the life of the party when really they're the death. I knew the book was already fighting an uphill battle, what with it being something completely new with no real audience.

Who was going to buy it? Who was even going to care?

Of course, as it turned out, there wasn't much to worry about. The anthology received favorable reviews from the likes of The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, and The Denver Post, among many other blogs and publications. It was featured on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon, which helped propel sales like crazy. I was interviewed by Sean Moncrieff of Newstalk, Ireland’s independent talk radio station. The Gotham Writers Workshop made Hint Fiction one of their writing contests. There were group readings/signing with several of the contributors in Los Angeles and New York City and Philadelphia, and then later at AWP in Washington, D.C -- where there was even a packed panel talking about the form. The Nervous Breakdown chose the anthology as one of their favorite books of the year.

You'd think that was it, right?


In addition to all of those wonderful things happening, the hits just kept on coming.

The Columbia Art League hosted an art show inspired by the anthology (in fact, the show's only open for a few more days, so if you're in the area, check it out). There's currently a Hint Fiction Film Contest, which will premiere at next year's Vail Film Festival. And I know of several classes (both college and high school) that teach Hint Fiction, if not briefly, in their creative writing workshops.

How many copies of the anthology have sold? Well, I don't have an exact number, but I did get a statement from the publisher not too long ago, and between October of last year and this past March, there were about 13,000 copies sold, between print and digital.

That ain't too shabby for a book that was inspired by a little essay that was never meant to be much of anything, huh?

So what does the future hold for Hint Fiction?

I have no idea.

The one question I get asked most often is whether there are plans for a second volume. And the answer I give most often (because it's the only answer) is no. Obviously the book did well and was very well received, and I think right now that's good enough. After all, you don't want to overdo a good thing. If the time is right for a second volume and there's great demand, then sure, I'll consider putting together another anthology. But right now I like the idea of there being only one.

But I do sometimes worry that Hint Fiction may eventually overstay its welcome. Some people call it gimmicky, and maybe it is. The truth is you can make a gimmick out of pretty much anything. I'm not here to defend Hint Fiction to the death. People are entitled to their own opinions. My main goal out of all of this was for readers and writers to think outside the box, to understand writing should not be restricted to arbitrary rules, to realize that stories so small can sometimes be quite powerful.

But with such a limited space to navigate, how much more is there to explore? Before, Hint Fiction was something new and exciting. There was no specific structure or rule, so writers were making them up as they went. But now that the anthology has been out and more places are publishing these very short stories, I've begun to see a pattern. The stories, for the most part, are beginning to follow a formula. There aren't really many more surprises to be had in those twenty-five words. I noticed this in the past Hint Fiction contest I hosted last spring, and because of that I'm hesitant to host another one.

Because the very last thing I want to see is Hint Fiction become stale and boring.

It's still, in many ways, the new kid on the block.

My hope is that it stays strong and manages to hold its own, no matter what comes its way.