Today @ Colorado State has been replaced by SOURCE. This site exists as an archive of Today @ Colorado State stories between January 1, 2009 and September 8, 2014.

Working at CSU

Short-short champion

August 31, 2009
By Beth Etter

On any given morning, Molly Reid (MFA '07) wakes up at 7 a.m., pours herself a cup of French roast coffee, adds half a teaspoon of sugar and some half and half, and sits down in front of her HP Pavilion 2005.

“My desk looks right out to a big oak tree. The trunk is inches from the window, so I get a close-up of the various squirrels that chirp and play out their own tail-twitching squirrelly melodramas up and down the tree,” Reid says.

Long and winding road

For 10 years, Reid has been devoting herself to writing the way that some devote themselves to cycling or piano. And her dedication was recently rewarded by James Wood, staff writer and book critic at the weekly magazine The New Yorker.

Wood chose Reid’s short story, “Not That I Care,” as the winner of the Three-Minute Fiction writing contest sponsored by National Public Radio. Reid's story was chosen out of 5,000 entries.

Her story, read by James Wood, and an interview aired on NPR’s “All Things Considered” on Aug. 1, 2009.

Working life

Reid is an adjunct instructor in CSU’s English department and teaches composition, fiction writing, and 20th-century fiction. Before her recognition from NPR, Reid had been published in Pear Noir!, a literary journal interested in flash fiction and prose poetry, and 303, a literary magazine out of Denver. “Right now I’m starting to submit a lot; I haven’t in the past,” she says.

As an intern for several years at the Colorado Review,  a national literary journal produced by the Center for Literary Publishing at CSU, Reid was responsible for reading through writers' submissions and judging which were best to print.

“It was good for me to see the stacks and stacks of submissions we received every week. It depersonalizes the submission and rejection process,”  Reid says. “I’m starting to get rejections, and you can’t take it personally or it will stop you from writing.”

Short-shorts and animals

Her own writing interest is often called flash fiction or short-short stories, which can be 300 to 1,000 words long. And her subject matter is animals, particularly pets, and the power and symbolism they have for the humans in their lives. Reid became interested in the bestiary, illustrated volumes from the Middle Ages that described animals and birds and often include allegories or fables related to humans.

“I thought that was interesting – how we use animals in fables and in children’s books,” Reid says.

Reid herself has a cat. “If he's not instigating squirrel confrontations, he's trying desperately to be in whatever spot is least beneficial to my writing - on my keyboard, or across my arms. He's not a big fan of the writing arts,” she says.

Onward and outward

Regardless of her cat’s complacency about writing, Reid is determined. Nearly every morning she is seated in a rigid-backed wooden chair with a small pillow, in absolute silence, staring at the screen, and typing her next short-short story.

"Not That I Care" by Molly Reid