Smoking With Sherrie Flick

by Karen Craigo Read the Story December 15, 2014

I know you mostly from Facebook. You’re the person who posts pictures of delectable desserts, only to mention in the thread below that I’m actually looking at something called a pea tart. I find you sneaky, and this story fits right in to your sneaky pattern. I’m not sure what my question is; really, I’m still mad about the pea tart. I think my question may be, “Why are you such a sneak?”

Hmmm. I don’t think I’m a particularly successful sneaky person in my day-to-day life. I’m kind of known for being honest. But maybe my sneakiness sneaks into my food and writing? In my writing I do like to mess with time—to try and float away from linear time to create something more like how memory works, the way thoughts can layer together randomly. I’m sorry about that pea tart—but trust me: it was delicious.

Every dish you post looks amazing, actually (even the sneaky ones). Does creativity in the kitchen play into your creative writing life, and if so, how?

I worked as a baker through my undergraduate years and also for a time after that. So I learned the craft of writing and baking simultaneously. The way a person needs to multi-task in the kitchen is similar to the way I’ve built my writing life. Layering in time to write, learning new techniques, trying to be as efficient as possible—shooting for a tasty result. Trying it all over again and again until I get it right. Thinking about a variety of craft techniques and employing them as a story unfolds. I find a lot of concrete satisfaction in the kitchen, which helps with the ambiguous satisfaction that often comes from the page.

I think you’re a person who, during your lifetime, has truly loved a dog. I’m not sure you could access that sense of loss if you had never experienced it. Would you tell me about your special dog? And if I’m wrong about the dog, how did you so successfully and subtly tap into the loss?

Ah, well, I’ve only owned one dog (and that dog is very dear to me) but that dog is very much alive and probably barking right now. But I did have a very dear, very complicated, very co-dependent cat, Nicky, who traveled with me through many states and boyfriends: New Hampshire to California to Nebraska to Pennsylvania. When Nicky was dying it came on quickly and there wasn’t time to take her to the vet. Plus, that wasn’t her style. She died dramatically in my back yard, in my husband’s arms, on his birthday, gasping for breath as we wept over her. She’s cremated and her little kitty ashes are in a tin box on top of a bookcase.

The short-short form is a tricky one, and I like the way you fit a woman’s whole world into a small space, sort of like a bento box into which are portioned Jocelyn’s work life, her love of nature, her paid-for home, her evident thrift. It actually read like a long story, and then it was complete and finished. What do you consider the challenges of the short form?

As I touched on above, I love the challenge of compressing time in the short form. It is like origami or, yes, a bento box. You can carefully relay a whole world with just the right words in just the right place. I love crafting sentences, and the short-short form limits the space and time you have to do just that. Ideally, I want to tug you into a space that seems far larger than it looks. Often I fail at that and so revision is endless with these little stories.

What are the rewards?

You get to answer questions posed by Karen Craigo for a quarterly you greatly admire … and other things.

About the Author:

Sherrie Flick's chapbook of flash fiction I Call This Flirting is out with Flume Press (2004) and University of Nebraska Press just published her first novel, Reconsidering Happiness.

About the Interviewer:

Karen Craigo is the editor of The Marshfield Mail newspaper in Marshfield, Missouri. She is the author of the poetry collections Passing Through Humansville (Sundress Publications, 2018) and No More Milk (Sundress Publications, 2016).