On Sunday, the fab team at Cast of Wonders, a young adult audio magazine, will broadcast my flash fiction story, “Come With Me,” along with two other shorts that I am really eager to hear! “Come With Me” is a creepy story I wrote for a prompt long ago, and it’s one of those pieces that felt effortless. This doesn’t happen often, sadly, but when it does my euphoria is great.
[ETA: Click here to reach Episode 99, which includes “Come With Me,” “The Piper” by Ian Rose, and “The Boatman” by J.A. Ironside.]
Writing a novel is engrossing and magical – there’s no way to describe how involved I get in the characters and their worlds (although, um, the word obsessive might work…). For me, writing a short story is fun. It’s still work, and I revise and revise and revise, just like I do with my novels. I get immersed like I do with my novels, and I obsess, but it’s different. The time it takes to write and revise is shorter. I don’t have to keep an entire 300 pages’ worth of information in my head, and worry about plot holes or how subplots do or don’t support the theme, or if characters behave consistently over a long story arc. Short stories are packed with emotion and mood delivered in just a few scenes, often with a change that is sudden or surprising. If I can come up with a twist, even better.
I’m especially thrilled that Alice Munro, an author I admire greatly, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature yesterday. I am notorious for not paying attention to any kind of news, but happened upon the story in Publisher’s Lunch. She’s quoted in The New York Times as saying, “I would really hope this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something you played around with until you got a novel.” I wonder why it is that people wouldn’t see the short story as an important art? I understand there isn’t the market for short stories that there is for novels, that it’s harder to publish short story collections… And I’m a part of that market. I am more likely to reach for the novel than the short story collection. Why is that?
Something else that perplexes me: earlier this year, Ms. Munro announced she was finished writing. It seems…well, I just can’t imagine quitting writing. I could imagine being done with publishing books (I’ve imagined that scenario over and over and haven’t even published a book), so maybe that’s what she means? I don’t in any way think she’s not passionate about writing or anything like that, but I just don’t get it. Homes told me that sometimes people get tired of one thing and just want to move on to something new. Maybe someday I’ll understand.