Short Story Preview: The Minimalist – Sue Hampton
Geoff was a minimalist. He swore by it. No tricks, nothing arsy or flash. Never overdo it. Let the silence speak, keep the sentences short and simple and remember semi-colons are for show-offs.
Having taught Creative Writing for Beginners for nine years, Geoff didn’t need lesson plans or notes. He just rolled up. And so did the students, more or less regular and more or less talented. Not all of them fun, and some of them vacant. There was the occasional strop among the know-alls but he chopped them down to size along with their prose. Cutting always paid off. Apart from anything else it showed who was boss. The power of the line right through could feel quite savage and a red biro drew blood. Padding, he’d scrawl as justification. Lose the flounce. Pace was for stepping up and rhythm must be sharp. Too slack, he’d slam them when they laboured it. Needs tightening. “One thing you must never be,” he’d tell them, “is flowery.” And he never was. No diversions, no excess to requirements. That way he always finished by nine thirty and there was plenty of time for the students to buy him a beer. Each, if he was lucky.
Most of them were bored out of their brains in office jobs or retail. That meant they had mental energy for an evening class, and for scribbling in
between. Either they hadn’t been to university or they’d done something career-driven like Business Studies or Event Management. Either way, writing was a break-out. Whether or not they crunched numbers, it was the other side of the coin – like it was for Geoff himself. But he didn’t drop in personal details, and he hoped that if he did, one of them would wave a red pen in his face.
Geoff was a late starter. He’d been a Geography student at Teacher Training College, mainly for the field trips. Marrying Kath, one of the more physical girls on the course, led to job sharing as teachers to split the parenting. And no time, no energy for imagination. So now he understood the students’ dreams and frustrations. The gaze to the hills.