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Be Careful What You Wish For

Theme of Absence 2018

February 17, 2018

Be Careful What You Wish For

"Be Careful What You Wish For" A short story by Paul Beckman. Read online at Theme of Absence.

We had ourselves beamed to far off places. Through our thought process we drove our cars and cooked our meals. We took a pill at the beginning of each school year and by the next day we knew everything we were supposed to know so we didn’t have to attend classes.

There was no television–just a blank wall in every room where we could watch the program of our choice by speaking into the TVPhone.

Food was a projected picture of what we wanted and the protein pill made it taste as good as it looked. Nothing was ever overcooked or too rare.

Our bikes didn’t have wheels or pedals but we got around by leaning or looking in certain directions.

Birthday presents could be gotten through Amazon Instant. I asked for a wish instead and the family went along with it so we “drove” to the Wish platform and sat around on invisible couches that were incredibly comfortable. I wished to go back to our regular life in Connecticut and it was explained by Robot Leader that if we went, we would have our memories of this episode of our life erased–all but the wisher, which in this case was me.

I thumb-upped the Robot Leader and we were back in Connecticut just waking up for Sunday pancakes and arguing over how the family was going to spend the day and who got to use our one car. My family is none-the-worse for wear but now I have to walk to the kitchen for a snack instead of projecting my snack picture on the wall and tossing down a protein pill.

Perhaps I made a hasty decision.

Author Interview: Paul Beckman

Interview with author Paul Beckman at Theme of Absence.Paul Beckman’s story, “Healing Time” was one of the winners in the 2016 Best of the Small Fictions. His stories are widely published in print and online in the following magazines amongst others: Connecticut Review, Raleigh Review, Litro, Playboy, and Thrice Fiction His latest flash collection is “Peek” and is available from his websites. His published story website is and  blog is Paul hosts the FBomb NY flash fiction reading series monthly at KGB in New York.

How long have you been writing and what got you started?

Almost 40 years. I kept having story ideas and made notes for them and 1 day I started.

What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?

Read, read, read.

Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?

Join Duotrope and read stories from their 6000 magazines.

What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?

Short stories: Isaac Babel, Phillip Roth, Leonard Michaels, Bruce Jay Friedman, Kevin Barry, Lydia Davis, Daniel Silva, Jo Nesbo, Ken Bruen and many more.

How do you measure success when it comes to your writing?

When I read my story out loud and don’t come across any extraneous words.

Do you favor the traditional route or self-publishing?

Traditional/ Indie

Have you attended any conferences or writing retreats? What was the experience like and do you have any to recommend?

“Bending Genres” Taos NM run by Meg Tuite and Robert Vaughan. Any class given by Nancy Stohlman and Kathy Fish.

How do you deal with rejections?

Go over the story for accuracy and resend it to another magazine.

Do you ever get criticism from family or friends who don’t understand your passion?


Were you taught anything about creative writing in high school or college that just didn’t work for you?

Write what you know. Teachers should stop saying that.

In your opinion, how important is a writing degree or MFA when it comes to achieving success in writing fiction?

It’s not the end all but it’s one more step in a writing education.

Do you participate in any online or in-person critique or writing groups?

Yes. I’m fortunate to have found one with good, smart, caring, & helpful writers.

What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?

Just to become a better writer.

What are your writing goals for the next five years?

See above.

Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.

My Flash fiction collection, “Peek” Big Table Press 2016. My new flash fiction collection, “Kiss Kiss” March 2018 Truth Serum Press. My published story website


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