Michelle Ross’s Comments
I wrote the first drafts of all three of these stories during flashathons organized by Meg Pokrass. These flashathons have consisted of a small group of writers around the world taking turns providing prompts, one prompt an hour. This goes on for 12 or more hours usually. What with the lightning-speed drafting process and the exhaustion (besides the exhaustion of drafting story after story non-stop, we always end up starting around 4 or 5 in the morning my time), flashathons take me into a different mental space. It’s like finding a secret door within a house in which you’ve lived for years.
“Barrel Cactus” and “Dead Plant” came out of the first flashathon I did with Meg and company, back in February. I’ve noticed that certain themes or images will sometimes get recycled in the pieces I draft during a particular flashathon. In this case, plants and relationships and mothers, namely. I drafted “Common Denominator” a month later, but other than a lack of plants, it’s kindred spirits with the first two.
Now, a confession: “Dead Plant” was inspired by a dead plant on a shelf in my own office. The prompt, if I recall correctly, had something to do with writing about an object in your line of sight. I saw that dead plant and I thought about how I had allowed it to remain in my office for quite a long time. I knew the plant was there—there’d been times when I registered its presence and its demise, yet did nothing about it—but somehow I managed to quickly forget about the plant again.
Also, a resolution: after drafting this story, I finally threw out that dead plant.
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