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.
I, too, am thrilled by Alice Monro’s winning the Nobel. I’m also and especially thrilled about getting to hear your story, “Come With Me,” on Sunday!
Thank you, Pat!
I’m also excited about Alice Munro! Congrats on your new short story!
Thank you for the well-wishes, Alison! I’m going to re-read some of Alice Munro’s stories to celebrate both things!
Fantastic, Beth! ‘Cast of Wonders’ is a great site. I’ll be interested to know how it was for you listening to your own story on the radio. Who will read your story?
I don’t know yet – never thought to ask! I’ll definitely keep you posted on the experience.
PB, I love it! They did a fantastic job!
Terrific short story, Beth. Beautifully creepy and read so well.
Thank you, Pat! They put together an excellent show.
So cool, Beth, on your short story show! Awesome. Ha on the quit writing thing. I totally get it. I quit nearly every time I sit down to do it. I thought everybody did that:) (I’m also prone to hyperbole.)
Thanks, Jamie! And some days I DO want to quit. So bad! But for me it’s usually a melodramatic reaction to rejection or being stuck with something, and I know it isn’t permanent.
I loved your comment about people not taking the time to read short stories. I was actually looking for them, and I am having a devil of time with it. If you put short stories in Google, you get lots of writing blogs that talk about them, but not many that are just out there to read. I got in to writing them because while I do admit I am trying to write a novel, I love how the form of a short story makes me be concise. Something I’m not prone to do on my own. That said, I read “Child” and enjoyed it a great deal. I was never quite sure of the why in terms of the way things were in the story, but the ending made it for me. I have my own blog – http://www.hourglasstales.com – were I put up my short stories, and would be interested in your thoughts if you have a moment.
Clyde, thank you so much for taking the time to read & comment, and to read “Child” as well. If you search for specific authors you may have better luck finding short stories to read online, or you could browse online journals that publish short stories. Otherwise, finding collections at libraries & bookstores is where I’d start. I’ll pop over to your blog soon!