Unexpected Changes

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.




4 thoughts on “Unexpected Changes

  1. I started out writing short stories because novels seemed way too daunting, then took a many-year hiatus. Now I find short stories the perfect antidote to long-form fiction. Something that can actually be written, edited, thought about, re-edited, polished, and submitted in MONTHS, not years!

    Good luck. And check out Duotrope.com if you’re interested in doing a lot of submitting. It’s well worth the $50/year because it not only gives you the ability to search hundreds of markets but also keep track of your submission process for multiple pieces.

    1. Hah! We started at opposite ends of the length spectrum. I have to say that I’m starting to find short stories very satisfying. It’s a different kind of challenge, and I always love a challenge.

      Thanks for the mention of Duotrope. I’d heard about it, but didn’t explore. At present, it doesn’t make sense for me, partly because I can’t afford it, but it might sometime in the future. I read widely, so I’ve been finding places to submit to, and the list is building. For now, I can easily track submissions in a Scrivener project, but that may also change.

      1. I keep hearing good things about Scrivener and even downloaded a trial version but was overwhelmed! Besides for a confirmed “panster” like myself, the learning curve/payback ratio didn’t make sense.

        1. A lot of people do seem overwhelmed with the learning curve, and I don’t quite understand that. It’s an easy program to get into if you just start with the basics, and add the additional features as you go along. I suspect that part of the problem is leaving behind what you already know very well, which is usually Word (not exactly an easy program to learn) and changing how you work.

          As a hybrid (pantser/planner), I find that Scrivener is adaptable to both methods. I’m more likely to be flying by the seat of my pants once I have a good grasp of what the story is about. That’s when I’m likely to get lost, and when Scrivener is most useful, because it helps keeps me on track.

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