Thisbe Nissen, Short Fiction

Thisbe Nissen is the author of a story collection, Out of the Girls’ Room and into the Night, and two novels, The Good People of New York and Osprey Island. She is also the co-author (with Erin Ergenbright) of The Ex-Boyfriend Cookbook, a collection of one-page stories, recipes and art collages. Now an Associate Professor at Western Michigan University, Thisbe has been working in the short-short form for twenty years, ever since she realized she could remove the line breaks from all the bad poems she’d ever written and uncover tiny stories hiding in plain sight. Her first published short-short, “At the No. 1 Phoenix Garden,” won second place in Story’s Short-short contest and appeared in the magazine’s Spring 1997 issue. Since then Thisbe’s published a whole lot of flash fiction (in Fourteen Hills, The Journal, Quick Fiction, NANO Fiction, Camera Obscura, Iowa Review, Eyeshot, The Atlantic Unbound, Triquarterly, and others) and she’s taught a lot of it too. These days Thisbe is, at any given time, working on a few short-shorts, some more traditional-length stories, a couple novellas, a beast of a novel, a collaged picture book or two, a patchwork quilt or seventeen, and, in season, a vegetable garden. She and her husband, poet and writer Jay Baron Nicorvo, are parents to two old cats, a brood of chickens, and one intriguing human child. They dream, one day, of raising goats on their farm outside Battle Creek.

Workshop: Flash Fiction

Flash fiction, short-shorts, smoke-longs, microfiction, mini fiction, sudden, nano, quick and hint fiction—it goes by various names and gets defined in different ways, and at different lengths, but whatever you call them, in this workshop we’re going to write them, study them, and workshop them, too. We’ll produce new material based on generative prompts and exercises—often using artifacts and found objects, because the blank page can be really daunting but, lucky for us, the world happens to be enormously full of STUFF that’s ours for the taking. Getting at fiction through the use of “artifacts” not only allows us to short circuit or circumnavigate our censorious internal editors, but enables us to begin filling that proverbial and ubiquitous blank page before actually writing anything! We’ll read some inspiring and instructional examples of the form, and workshop your own forays into this wondrous world of the very very short story.

Thisbe Nissen on the Web

Iowa Review, “The Challenger Disaster at Smiling Goat.”

Camera Obscura, “Deer at Rest.”

Triquarterly Online, “Lull,” “What Hair Does,” “Iris Murdoch’s Taste For Kale,” “In Bed With My Parents,” & “The Last Marathon Brunch.” 

NANO Fiction, “Attributes of Baking Soda.”

from Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer, Bret Johnston, ed., Random House, 2008, “Fiction Through Artifacts or How To Justify a Love of Accumulating Junk."