I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.

About craft.  About writing.  About finding my element (thanks, Dr. Robinson — your book has really opened doors).

And, after all this consideration, there’s a few things I’ve noticed.

There’s a lot of pressure in the publishing world.  A lot. There’s pressure to sell, there’s pressure to be a ‘NYT Bestseller,’ there’s pressure to write literary, there’s pressure to write “the in thing.”

And most of all, from my side of the pond, there’s a lot of pressure to write novels.

You see, people in the larger part of the publishing industry sneer at short stories.  They say they don’t sell.  They say “people don’t want to read that,” and maybe they’re right.  I was almost completely turned off the medium by some of the “great literary” (ahem.  DRECK) tales foisted upon me in high school.  I’d certainly be turned off of them if I read the modern literary selections.  (Don’t get me wrong, some of them are very, very good, but it takes a very special writer to pull it off.  Many of them, however, aren’t.)

This notion, that to be a writer of any kind of worth you have to write a novel, is poisonous.  It’s horrid.  Writing, no matter the form is worth something.  There shouldn’t be this insidious prejudice floating about.

But there is.

In the last two weeks, on the recommendations of a couple people, I’ve been trying to write a novel.  And it’s been going really, really well.  But, despite the fact that it’s been going really, really well, there’s  a problem.

I’m bored.  I feel listless and flat.  My creative edge, my spark, feels smothered.

A writer should not be bored with their writing, but I am.  A writer should not feel smothered.  Listless.  A more practical person would say “I’ll write the novel, because the novel will sell.”  And it’s true.  Novels sell.

But, I’ve always been the type of person to follow my heart in doing things rather than following practical advice.  Sometimes they overlap, and sometimes they don’t.  And, I guess what I’m trying to say is,

I am a short story writer.

There’s no real use in denying it; it’s my love.  I love poring over word-choice, I love the beauty of absolute brevity.  I love the challenge of it.  Reading a well-crafted short story completely makes my day, and I’m giddy and excited like I was on my first day of college.  My favorite, best-loved books have been books of short stories.

A girl came up to me at work the other day and said, “Hey.”  She looked at me out of the corner of her eye, a little shy.  “You’re the short story writer, aren’t you?”

I said “yes, that’s me,” and she smiled.

I’d never been happier, and I felt this beautiful, sudden swell of pride for the moment.

I am a short story writer.

Maybe I’ll finish this novel.  Maybe I won’t.  At this point, I’m not sure.

But short stories….  There’s millions of them out there, countless ideas, endless situations to play with.  Just thinking about it sets me on fire.

That’s who I am.

I can’t not be who I am.


8 thoughts on “realizations

  1. You are only a short story writer if that’s how you see yourself. You have the capability to be that and much more. Give yourself a chance. Don’t tell yourself you can’t write a novel. Because you will then do only shorts. You Do have it within you to be a novel writer, if you choose to be. Just be careful about putting up blocks in you mind about what you can and can’t write. Never limit yourself. When the time it right, it will pour out of you like a river and it will flow along the banks, splashing like a salmon caught on a hook. Don’t you see new adventures for some of your characters? I do.
    The characters in Prophet’s Choice for one…And I’m sure, if you think about it, you have other characters in your mind that are screaming to get out and tell the masses all about their adventures. Just relax and let it happen. That’s the least you can do. You have a way a bringing your characters to life in peoples minds…it doesn’t have to be in a quick manner.

    Just do what you were made to do. And be comfortable doing it. Don’t let the word “Novel” scare you. Just let it happen.

  2. I think you missed the point.

    I’m not saying that “oh, I’ll NEVER write a novel.” And I’m not limiting myself. Most likely, I’ll still work on that novel if only for the reason I want to be able to say “I did it.” I hate leaving projects unfinished.

    The thing is, I’ve simply found what I’m good at. My niche. What sets me alight with passion. The thing that brings out my creative energies, the thing that drives me to be a better writer. And I’ve made the decision to DO it, no holds barred.

  3. Honestly, Heather, if you’re bored with novel writing then don’t do it. Follow your heart. I certainly believe you have it in you to write a great novel, but if -you’re- bored, it will show, no matter how excellent the writing.

    And I get what you’re saying. Short Stories are your niche, they are your love. We all have our love. I don’t know where mine is yet. I worry I might not have a place to fit in. So the fact that you know what yours is, says a lot. I mean, if you love something, eventually you might want to expand it.

    But I say, expand on your own terms. And it appears you believe that, too.


  4. Hahahaha! EVERYONE spells it wrong. The natural spelling is with a capital K, but what a lot of people and parents don’t realize, is that the capitcal K denotes a last name. Mine is spelled with a little k. It’s not a big deal. I just get excited when it’s spelled right.

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