I’ve never written a novel. I would love to, but I haven’t found something that I can write about for such a substantial number of words.
I write short stories.
I find I only need a few thousand words to say what I want to say. This is probably because I write about a single moment or a single thought. I’m interested in how this singular action can create a major change in a character, place, or time.
I’ve heard a lot of writers say that writing short stories is the most difficult form of narrative. I disagree. For me, it is the easiest. The thought of writing 70,000 words is overwhelming.
I have a heap of ideas for short stories. I have one idea for a novel. But that idea needs a lot of development and I can’t see myself writing that novel within the next couple of years.
How do some writers churn out multiple novels a year? This is a question that stumps me. I admire these writers for their incredible accomplishment.
But I also wonder why short stories aren’t as popular as novels. Is it because readers prefer longer works? Or, are novels just easier to obtain? I think it’s the latter. Short stories are generally published in anthologies and literary magazines. Neither of which are marketed as well as novels, probably because the publishers of short stories simply don’t have access to the same amount of money to market as the big publishing houses.
This is a fact that I find sad. Not only do I enjoy writing short stories, I enjoy reading them. But they just aren’t as easy to access. I am a firm believer in supporting literary magazines and writing journals. I support them by taking out subscriptions. Why would one of these publications want to support my writing if I don’t also support their publication?
I tend to enjoy reading the smaller publications rather than the “big wigs.” One of my favourite magazines is Positive Words. I’ve had a subscription for a few years now and thoroughly enjoy reading each month when it arrives in the mail. I like it because the contributors are not a list of who’s who in the writing world. They are real, everyday writers who love to write.
I’m also a big fan of the Australian Book Review and yes, this is one of the “big wigs” but I won’t begrudge them that. I love it for being a forward-thinking magazine. It’s not the same old tired thing that I’ve read a thousand times before, it’s fresh. The ABR is Australia’s version of The New Yorker.
Okay, I’ve veered off topic. I write short stories, but I don’t have a preference when it comes to reading. I will read anything that’s put in front of me, including some rather dull workplace health and safety regulations that I have been reading lately.
What about all you other writers, do you prefer writing short stories or novels? How about you readers, do you read short stories and if so, do you find them easy to access?
A Novelist Minus 65,000 Words