The Joy of Short Stories

It’s time to discover it again. I don’t mind novels. I’ve wasted a lot of time reading them over the years. But I’m not the daydreaming type. I don’t read to get lost in story worlds; kudos to the author who is savvy enough to get me lost, anyway. I read to get lost in mental constructs. I read for ideas, and it’s a lot faster to get to the author’s completed idea when reading short stories. For those who are daydreamers, short stories are conversely things of joy because daydreamers, as readers, can still immerse themselves in an author’s dream world without having to give up hours of their lives to do so.

As a writer, I can write my ideas (and dreams) into short pieces in a few hours, versus the months to years it takes me to complete the first draft of a novel. Because of that, I used to write a Christmas story every year or toss off a story when my novel-writing was frustrating me. I remember hearing at writing workshops that short stories were just as, if not more difficult to write than novels. That’s bullshit, really. Does anyone actually believe that? The details do have to be very focused in a short story; writing them is a good discipline because of that. Still, it’s much easier to keep track of the details when the plot is accomplished in under 10,000 words. The novel I’m currently finishing I wrote very quickly (in about a month), but two years later, I’m about to lose my mind trying to remember all the details.

There are a number of good short story magazines out there: there’s Sci Phi Journal, for example. Yesterday, I read this article on the Castalia House blog, which links to a journal I’d never heard of before called Cirsova. Of course, most of you know about friend Jessica Thomas’s Common Oddities. I have too many short story anthologies on my Kindle to link to — and, hey, I have one called The Jaybird’s Nest and other stories that has had few reviews and could use some more. If you click on the Common Oddities link, go to the second (Spring 2014) and read my story La ’tistic en la mente to get an idea of what’s in my book of short stories.

I haven’t written a short story in years, and it makes me a little sad. As I said, it’s time to rediscover the joy. Have a great day and week, as I may not post again for a while.

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5 comments

  1. Well, I think some people are natural novelists. For them 10000 words towards a novel is easier than having to wrap up an entire tale in under 10k words. But I’d agree with you that for most human beings, short stories are easier.

    I love short stories for some of the same reasons you do. I love digesting the idea.

    And as you know, I think you write great short stories. 🙂

    1. I actually thought of your big idea blog when I wrote this post. We must be riding on the same wavelength. Joel has a friend he rarely sees. He’ll start thinking about him out of the blue, and then the friend will call. That’s the kind of wavelength I mean. You’re into physics; you can explain it to me. 😉

      1. Girlfriend. WHY would you wear a headband for 18 hours?! Considering I need 8-9 hours of sleep, I&;mv#3Ne9er dressed that long 🙂 ha!I love the big flower ones that are still flat on the head. I couldn't get used to the ones that stuck out, so McK rocks those 😉

  2. I have a red book of Bradbury short stories that my son calls a Bible, because it’s as big as one and kind of “shaped” like one. In a way, I guess, when you’re at the Bradbury-level of short story quality, it is a sort of Bible if you’re a writer.

    1. Ray Bradbury was one of my favorites in middle school years. I may have even accidentally, ahem, stolen his books from the school library. I still love his stories, and my conscience is still stricken.

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