Notes on the Micros

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March 19, 2020 by The Citron Review

Everything’s too big.

If the number is written down, the writer stops writing, starts crying. Again. The deaths multiply in the time it takes to find fresh Kleenex, wash raw hands while grumbling an old TV theme, and yell across the apartment about the already outdated coronavirus toll. Exponential is a word that shouldn’t exist, but declaring a moratorium on anything seems gauche.

A virus is not a metaphor. A virus is a virus. Yet with its crowning halos showing only under colorized electron magnification and a trail of death always a future possibility, the writer’s eye wants to flinch. Or twitch. Or at least be rubbed by the palm of their hand, now forbidden for fear of transmission. The writer finds or crafts metaphors to deal with the overwhelming realities, no matter how small they are, no matter how big they feel. Sure it’s a put-on, but creating new work may be all we have during our lost time.

We’ve discovered a new crack in our timeline. The time we lose, though, is evidence of luck. We must use our good fortune to check if other people are losing time, too. Finding connection during these periods of social isolation or sheltering in home is a way of maintaining community. So much anxiety and depression gets kicked up, triggered by uncertainty and fear. We have enough time to look out for each other and reach out for help with our own needs, too. If time stops, we cannot note it. The writer keeps writing because too much erasing is happening.

Being dedicated to the short form at The Citron Review, we see an opportunity. Let’s move some words around a page. You can even do it on your phone. Tell us about a moment within a much bigger story. Or make a sketch that electrifies, brings to life, puts to rest, awards, encourages, mourns, resists, or triumphs in around a hundred words. This challenge is about the rejuvenating process of creating a tiny expression of humanity when worry overwhelms.

We have examples to inspire you. Our new Spring Issue features Citron’s first three creative nonfiction micros ever. Samantha Steiner’s piece delivers us from a claustrophobic vision by revealing something quite the opposite (“My Closet”); Christina Marie Glessner lets us roll on like the little hatchback that could (“Click”); and a “Polaroid” by Charlotte Hamrick plays with the implications of frozen time where hidden effects may resonate for a lifetime. The micro fiction from Bethany Mangle explores the darkness in “Dresser Drawer.” Each piece finds agency in unlikely places.

So here’s your challenge, dear readers: Write micros when you can’t write anything else. Write micros because you need escape, even if you escape into the place where everything’s too big. Find a way to redirect your focus. Take a swipe. Harvest a swath. Scrimshaw up some symbolism. Take control of just one moment, one turning point, one harrowing close-up. That dangerous protein spike under the microscope – how will you color it? Precisely inside or way outside the lines?

JR Walsh
Fiction and Online Editor
The Citron Review

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Yellow Flower in Green Field

Niigata Field Flower, June 2020, Gretchen Jude

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