This morning I looked over my blog notes. I make these so I can remind myself what I’m going to write to you good people about. I came to the next item on my list: “Why does it take so long to write a hairy story?” Well the answer is, that a hairy story takes longer because you have to shave it first. Get it?! Ha. Ha. I know, it’s bad.
It was supposed to say, “Why does it take so long to write a short story?” Apparently autocorrect knows better than me.
I have lots of trouble writing short fiction and little to no trouble writing novels. Don’t even get me started on poetry. That’s one medium that remains firmly out of my reach.
I have finished 4 novel length stories, so between 85,000 and 100,000 words. These books flew out of me, I couldn’t finish them fast enough. If I don’t include research or editing time, it takes me about a month to write a book from start to finish. The jury’s still out on whether they’re good books or not, but that’s not the point and a whole other blog post.
The ideas for these books seem to flow from my pen and onto the page. I have dialogue and plot points, funny characters and soul destroying events. I hope people want to throw my books across the room in desperation and anger. That means I’ve connected.
Yet, when I write a short story, I take the same amount of time to write 20,000 words as it takes to write 100,000 and that’s not being generous. Writing short stories for me feels like wading through honey, one stoke forward and then I need a rest to recover from the exertion of dragging my sloppy mind through the viscous fluid. Perhaps the problem is that I have too many words to work with in a full length novel. I can go on and on and on and then go back and cut the fat later. But with a short story, I’m always conscious of every word I’m writing. I’m constantly thinking about a better word or a more concise and punchy word to use because I’m limited. I want scenes to jump from the page but at the same time be succinct, whereas in a novel I have more time to set the scene and then zero in on the action.
The only time I’ve really written short stories is for competitions, (which I am yet to win, FYI). Maybe there’s too much pressure to win something, to compete with much more talented people then myself. Although the last short story I wrote was a sci-fi called Guardians of Darkness. My beta readers loved it and I submitted to a science fiction journal – I’m waiting to hear back, but it’s only been a few weeks. If its not accepted, I’ll put it up here to torture all of you with. I know, lucky you.
I read somewhere that you are either a short story writer or you’re not. I know I’m not a poet. I read wonderful works on here by talented people like Tre at A Cornered Gurl and Anita Lubesh at As it Comes. (If you don’t follow their pages, go and do yourself a favour.) There is no way I would even try to do anything that resembles the work they are capable of and I’m fine with that. But I can’t accept that I’m not a short story writer. If a bumble bee can fly, then I can write short stories!
Do you notice a difference between different types of writing? What do you struggle with?