Every once in a while, I try to step back and get an overall look at what I’ve been doing with my writing. Getting out from under the trees to see the whole forest. Surprises seem to pop up with increasing frequency lately. The biggest surprise is that I’m moving away from novels and moving toward short stories and nonfiction, with maybe a novella tossed in here and there. It wasn’t a conscious choice, but one dictated by my gradual loss of energy and the knowledge that I can’t really afford to invest in stories that will take two or three years (or more) to develop.
In a way, writing novels went against my natural inclination to write short. I blame NaNoWriMo for that. Just kidding about the blame. NaNo got me off my butt, so I owe it whatever career I have, if I can even call it a career.
The first thing that started turning my mind toward short was the Scrivener folder with dozens of story ideas. Just looking at the titles and notes was enough to make me tired. I’d have to live another three decades or more to tackle even a fraction of them. Then I looked more closely. How many of them had enough substance to become novels? Not many, really. Hmm. Short stories? That might make more sense.
And then there were my conversations with Danielle de Valera about the length of time it took to get a novel finished and published, and about her short stories. Then there were the magazine links she kept sending my way. Submit, why don’t you?
Novels were starting to look like a temporary aberration that I was just starting to recover from. I’ve been so deep into them that shorter fiction didn’t look like an option. I’d never written short stories and didn’t know if I was capable of it. Some ideas were too big to be contained in the short form. So I thought until I started reading shorts and paying attention to their possibilities.
But I still have several unfinished ones that require decisions about their fate. I’m working actively on New Serfdom and Gift of the Ancien, and I do intend to publish them. All the Broken Places isn’t too far along, but is worth developing and trying to sell to a romance publisher. The Warden, reluctantly, is likely to be put on a permanent back shelf.
I’m also working, more or less simultaneously, on two stand-alone short stories that I hope to finish and start submitting soon, and a themed collection. A Well-Educated Boy may turn out to be a novella rather than a novel. I hope. And there’s the nonfiction.
So much for my adolescent dream of becoming a famous novelist.