I wrote my first short story long, long ago after taking a class on getting published where I learned that to get published you had to be published.
But it made/makes sense, publishers were/are more likely to work with someone who had experience. So…one of the suggestions was to write a short story for a contest or to submit to a magazine, because getting those published should be a bit easier than a book.
Okay. I figured I could do it! I had written a 100,000 word manuscript…what was 2,000 words, right?
Well, I did. But I learned that shorts are a whole other beast.
Getting a set up, a conflict, a climax in 2,000 words is tough. But doing it is good for my brain, flexing different writing muscles and challenging the creative gray matter.
I have found a love of writing short stories. An obsession, maybe.
Or maybe not.
Maybe my brain knows what it’s doing…what it wants. I write shorts in spurts. I didn’t realize it until lately, but I do. Right now, I am working on the third short in a row…I think it’s number three. I get caught up in anthologies looking for creepy stories. My brain lights a signal fire that says HEY I HAVE AN IDEA FOR THIS ONE! So I write…I submit.
And the current manuscript gets set aside.
But YOU SHOULD REALLY BE WORKING ON THAT MANUSCRIPT!
Maybe. Or maybe I need to flex the short story muscles, challenge my creativity. Writing shorts reminds me to be mindful of word usage, to pay attention to pacing, to use all my writing knowledge to get a whole story told in as few words as possible, to let my mind go wild and come up with a unique story.
There’s no room for info dumps. There’s no time to mess around with backstory. All the subtle hints have to be powerful.
Shorts carry a punch.
I can usually get a short polished in a month. Not very long, but it sure wears me out. After these last few, I noticed that I’m done. I am ready to go back to my newest manuscript and focus on it. But that’s normal. Looking back on my writing life, I will break from longer work to dive into shorts. I need it. My mind needs it. That obsession I think I have…maybe it’s necessary. Maybe it’s the way my writing brain works. I am definitely going to let it do what it needs.
This final creepy TV story is due at the end of this month. I am ready for it to be sent. I am ready to go back to Nowhere with Ember, my workouts in pacing and words and power complete. I’ll wait and see if any of these submissions are accepted.
At some point next year, the shorts will call again. And I will answer, ready for the challenge and hopefully becoming a better writer.
We gotta do what we gotta do.