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.