When a Novelist Wishes She Could Write Short Stories

File this under: Current Distractions.

"Yield to Whim" by Frank Foreman, 1983, on the road leading to the Djerassi Resident Artists Program

I know I’m working on a new novel proposal right now, quite possibly two, and I know I just revised a novel and will be revising said novel again soon enough—did you see that 17 & Gone has a season? It does! Spring 2013! Plus, I’ve been gobbling up a strange array of novels since I landed at the artist colony, but I can’t seem to quit my attachment to short stories.

I adore short stories.

In fact, I wrote a story just a couple of weeks ago, and it was a wild, familiar experience I’d forgotten, and all I can think is how I want to write more. What is it about a short story that calls to me so much? I really don’t think it’s all about the length… though how nice to write something under 300 pages, right? (I won’t tell you the current page count of 17 & Gone.) I think it’s more about the experience of reading short stories: intense, exquisite bursts of attention. And then it’s over. I like that feeling. I also like how, in a story, every moment is there for a reason, every single word is significant. For someone who loves a good sentence as much as I do, it’s the perfect form.

And yet, for someone who can’t seem to shut up, the way I do, a novel really is more suited to my writing… but I can cheat a little, can’t I? Not to mention that, often, a short story for me can be the jumping-off point for a new novel. Imaginary Girls was first conceived as a short story, after all.

I want to write some more stories this year, and I want to start sending out to journals again like I haven’t in years. Maybe I’ll somehow get myself to a summer workshop so I can work on this.

After I finish those novel drafts, of course.

Do you love short stories, too? Tell me why!

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