The Story Behind the Story: “Wolf or Deer”

This past summer, I returned to my childhood summer camp to teach creative writing after having been away from the place for more than twenty years. The setting, that inimitable blend of new and old, was rife with inspiration. For the entire month I was there (with my own two kids in tow) I knew I wanted to write some kind of camp story – I knew it would be short, I just didn’t know what it would look like. Then, I came home. Life resumed. I threw myself into trying to write a novel, which involved resisting a natural impulse to compress everything into as few words as possible, to leave room for what’s left unsaid, and to become more comfortable with the mess of sustaining multiple narrative threads over time. Which is to say, I haven’t been letting myself write many stories. But one day I finally cheated on the novel, and Wolf or Deer emerged. There is something deeply gratifying and playful about flash fiction, like figuring out a puzzle. To build an entire world and tell a full story in a 1000 words may seem restrictive, but I find the limits of that framework to be incredibly freeing. You get in, you get out. You call it a day.

About Sara Lippmann

Sara Lippmann is the author of the story collection, Doll Palace. A 2012 NYFA Fiction Fellow, her work has appeared in The Good Men Project, Wigleaf, Slice magazine, Tupelo Quarterly, Joyland and elsewhere. Currently, she cohosts the Sunday Salon, a longstanding reading series in New York's East Village. For more, visit

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