Short Fiction Month 2018

It’s that time of year again.

As my longtime readers will remember, last year I declared March to be Short Fiction Month.  At the time, I’d been running into walls with my writing; progress on Pathfinder had stagnated, fragmented into a half-dozen spun-off side projects, and eventually ground to a halt.  I was losing my edge.  I needed something to jump-start my creativity.  So, thinking back to my beginnings as a [semi-]serious writer, I decided to spend an entire month writing short stories.  It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, but one I came to love.  In the interest of holding myself accountable, I made much public ado about it, posting a new short story each week in March and writing about my progress.

In the end, I managed to gather a decent amount of attention.  At the time, that combined with the output I managed and the sense of renewal I felt was enough to convince me to do it again.  And so, one year hence, here we are.

There’s something deeply satisfying about the concise nature of a short story.  It’s not unlike the difference between a meal and a snack.  A meal is something of an event: it requires travel or preparation.  It mandates plates and napkins, sitting, balance and portions, and often conversation.  A snack, on the other hand, is brief: no plates or sitting necessary.  No long wait, no deep commitment.  Near-instant gratification.

Writing short fiction may be far more time-consuming than reading it, but overall the principle is the same.  In writing, I’ve found, satisfaction is largely derived from completion.  It feels good to put the finishing touches on a story, write that last sentence.  Thus, short fiction is like snacking: a quick, contained story.  Beginning, middle, and end, all within 5000 words or so.

It’s almost amusing to find myself here again this year: my writing lapsed, feeling somewhat creatively spent.  Of course this year the scenario stems from the Olympics, and the exhaustion caused by my final edits of Wide Horizon.  However, the symptoms are the same, and so, I hope, is the treatment.

My first big challenge this year will be posting my first short story of the month: Friday, of course, is tomorrow, and I’ll need to throw something up for the week.  Wish me luck, and do enjoy Short Fiction Month 2018.

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4 Comments

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  1. I write short fiction all the time but that’s my problem. It’s hard for me to concentrate on longer, multi-part projects. Short fiction is “in and out” but then it’s gone so I have to write something else.

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    • In terms of writing longer pieces, I look at it from my perspective as a baseball fan. In baseball, during spring training starting pitchers are “stretched out”: over the course of training, they gradually increase their innings and pitch count, going further every time until they can pitch a complete game without tiring. Before I wrote my forthcoming novel I started writing short fiction. I found that, over time, I was able to write longer and longer pieces, until eventually I found myself capable of maintaining focus on a novel. By the end of the process, while writing Wide Horizon, I was churning out between 5000-6000 words a night.

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  2. I like your approach, and I wish you success! I hope this March helps you as much as last year’s did. 🙂 On the topic of short stories versus longer works, though, my understanding is different from yours. After all, you can write a formulaic novel relying on deep-set tropes and intuition, and be done in a month – or you can toil for years on a single short story, forging layer upon layer of meaning into it. I think the more experienced I get, the less emphasis I seem to place on word counts alone. But I understand your point of view, too, and I’m certain it works for many writers. 🙂

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  3. All the best! If you would like to promote your stories or blog, you can guest post at my blog to get more views! Looking forward to your month of short fiction! https://essaydump.wordpress.com/2018/04/25/submissions/

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