And so it seems that my novel, even despite the fact that there are quite a few teen horror/paranormal books in the same (20k-30k) range, is not long enough.

I was told this after posting my initial query letter for review/critique (which is a good thing — I have ideas on how to improve my letter), and I will be honest: it completely burst my bubble.  For once in my life, I thought I had managed to write an actual book, something people would read (seeing as, according to the “experts,” the short story market is dead).  I, even knowing that I cannot, and should not, put all my eggs in one basket, had hopes that this piece was the one, and that I’d finally do something I’d dreamed of since I learned to read.

Pardon my language, but, SHIT.

I feel like asking myself: who am I kidding?  What ever made me think I’d do anything other than short stories that sit online day after day and maybe get one reader, or two?

I love short stories.  I really do.  And the more I look back at my reading habits over the years, yeah, I read a lot of novels, but it was the short stories that really touched me.  Poe.  Lots of Poe.  And Wharton’s “Demon Lover.”  Perkins-Gilman’s “Yellow Wallpaper.”  Stephen King’s “Everything’s Eventual” collection.  “The Chronicles of Krystonia.”  Laurell K. Hamilton’s “Strange Candy.”  “Sherlock Holmes.”  Jacob’s “Monkey’s Paw.”  Fairytales, lots of fairytales.  And that great, phenominally creepy piece about the guy who is REALLY painting demons that is written by someone whom I can’t remember the name of.

I love short fiction.  I love the stories that are written to entertain, not the literary, academic kerfuffel that is only written to impress, or show off.  I love the gritty, down-to-earth stories that stick with me.  (For example, the story “The Revenant,” which is actually contained inside the plot of Harwood’s novel “The Ghost Writer.”)

And I’m good at them.  Decent.  I can put one together, relishing the weekly toil, and I know where I am.  I breathe my prose.  It fits me.  It is me, in all it’s chaotic, wild, and eccentric aliveness.

I wish kids weren’t soured on the form so early.  I wish the people writing the English literature textbooks realized that kids generally don’t like “literature.”  I wish they’d realize that kids can learn the same lessons about grammar and prose from an entertaining genre piece that they can from “literature.”  And that, like the shelving system at my library, kids are more likely to read “literature” if it’s intermingled with “the good stuff.”

Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world.  Nor will it ever be.

And I guess, that if He Who Is So Often Named has decided that I shall write short stories, then that is what I shall do. 

Even if it gets me nowhere.

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4 thoughts on “not enough

  1. Heather,

    Short stories are amazing, even if the market says they are dying. In many ways, I think short stories are more remarkable than an entire book, for the mere fact that the author has to captivate the reader, and make a point in a very short amount of time. The fact that you are capable of doing this is absolutely wonderful! I admire it.

    If you want to write a book. Don’t give up. This last while has been difficult for me, trying to figure things out in my life. The other night I was sobbing, just fed up with “it all”, and lamented to my father on the phone what a failure I am. He said, “Mckenzie, you’re amazing. And the fact of the matter is, you haven’t failed, until you quit.”

    Don’t quit. If really want to write a book and publish it, do it. Keep at it. If you feel that writing a book is not for you, but short stories (a book of short stories?), then do it. Keep going.

    You’re amazing, Heather. And if God wants you to do this, ask Him how.

    Kenzie

  2. Thanks.

    Truth be told, the other night I did the same thing. I must have cried for an hour or two, and then, when I’d finally get my nose dried, I’d burst into tears again.

    I hate that feeling of futility. Hate it.

    I feel a little better today though. I haven’t written anything since the drop into the Abyss, but I kind of figured it might have just been time for a minor break. (I tend to get cranky when I’m approaching “burn out”)

    And maybe I should try for a book of short stories. Maybe that’s where this is going.

    I will have to think on it.

    Thanks, ‘Kenzie.

  3. mckenzie is right, h…or as whatsisname said in “independence day,”: “i ain’t heard no fat lady sing!”

    i’m intimately acquainted with the effects of burn out…i call it entering my personal gray zone. i feel ‘fog-bound,’ unable to connect. and before i learned to recognize the symptons, i’d find myself becoming depressed, certain i’d never be able to do what i wanted to do. but doll, it does pass, and when the body/psyche/spirit recoups and the muses sing again…well, you know.

    all this to say, let the fog, the self-doubt pass. believe in yourself, and that there is no box…you have no limits but those you set upon yourself. you can achieve whatever you want to achieve. it may take time…hell, it *always* takes time if it’s good…but you’ll get there.

    and try not to put too much weight on the day’s trends…what sells now, may not tomorrow. next year it may flip again. and again. and again. much like fashion trends. what remains constant is the quality of work; the truth and beauty of your voice, your ever-expanding vision.

    have faith in yourself, doll…you’ve got a lifetime of writing ahead of you.

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