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A switch in priorities

October 26, 2015

As mentioned in my last post, I’ve lately been spending much of my writing time on short fiction. This is not to say I’ve given up on writing my novel – I’ve still been working on it every now and then – but it’s true to say that the novel is no longer my priority. My priority now, at least where writing is concerned, lies in projects that I can start and finish in a reasonable length of time – fiction shorter than a novel, in other words.

My reasons here are pretty straightforward. I’m an Astrophysics PhD student, going into my third year; as such, my “day job” revolves around a single long project with no clear end in sight. There are plenty of false starts, plenty of false stops, delays aplenty – you name it. It’s fascinating work, if I do say so myself, but it’s also often frustrating. And I what was I doing for a hobby, to provide a break from that? I was working on a novel – a single long project…with no clear end in sight…with plenty of false starts, delays, and so on.


Honestly, I was starting to get tired of the whole business. I was getting far too tempted to stop writing and spend more time on something…well, easier. And the last thing I wanted to do was to stop writing altogether.

And so, I’ve switched to writing short stories – for the time being, at least.

Short stories do indeed have a lot of things going for them. The main thing, of course, is that they’re short; more than once now, I’ve written out a skeleton draft of a story in a single writing session. They’re a great way to play around with fresh ideas, too – ideas that I’d otherwise just have to sit on until more time became available. Lastly, they’re an excellent way to learn about pacing: when you need to keep things brief, extraneous and overwritten scenes suddenly become so much easier to see.

It’s not a perfect solution, by any means: short stories and novels have vastly different structures, so short stories are not ideal practice for writing longer works. It is a good solution, though – good for me, at least – and I fully intend to see where all it leads.

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  1. Sounds like a good plan. ^^ I, too, have found myself drawn to shorter works in recent times — particularly drabbles (stories exactly 100 words long). It’s a fun challenge, trying to convey an idea in such a small space. Plus, as you’ve noted, it’s a way to scratch the writing itch in much less time than a novel takes!

    • 100 words, huh? Can’t say I’ve ever thought of trying something THAT short; might just have to try it in the near future 😉

  2. You seem to have found the best solution to the problem. 🙂
    Short stories are a lot of fun to play with…I mean, write. When I was in full swing (not hampered by a baby’s needs, lol) it wasn’t unusual for me to finish one a day, taking a few minutes the next day to edit. My favorite length is flash fiction (under 2,000 words).
    The important thing is that you’re happy with what you choose. 🙂

    • I prefer flash fiction too, right now; it just makes such a nice change from working on a single large project. I might go for something slightly longer for Nano, but we’ll see.

      I’ve gotta say that a full short story in two days is really impressive. My first drafts tend to be quite bare, and it always me a while to really flesh my stories out. Great going!

      • *blushes* Thanks.
        If Kathleen wasn’t teething again I would probably try to get a couple done a week. I may try anyway. lol
        Do what works for you for NaNo. My husband is thinking of working on something that will probably top out at about 70 pages. (Which usually means it will be another of his series’ he’s juggling. lol I’m not complaining, though, he’s naturally a better storyteller than me.)
        Good luck with everything, and enjoy NaNo! 😀

  3. Funny, I was just asking about this in my response to your comment on the new Chronicle…

    Like rosedandrea said, it sounds like you’ve found the best solution for you. And that’s what’s most important in the end: You have to do what works for you as a writer. And right now, if it’s short stories, then that’s great. 🙂

    Do you have any plans for the short stories after you write / revise them? And do you think you’ll go back to the novel at some point in the future?

    • Yeah, I’ll definitely go back to the novel at some point. I’m actually hoping I’ll be a better writer by that point, since I’ll have written a lot by then if all goes to plan.

      As for the short stories, I plan to submit some for publication once I feel them ready. I actually got my first rejection note a couple of weeks ago, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty more in the foreseeable future. All part of the process, right? 😛

      • Yeah, rejection is part of the process. I think I spent close to 5 years submitting my poetry to different online and print publications before I got my first acceptance letter. (They sent me a rejection letter by accident first, then responded less than 12 hours later to admit their mistake. Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions!) So I know the feeling. Whatever happens, though, don’t give up. Keep on writing, revising, and submitting with the belief that your work will find the right home.

  4. Sounds great, Nick 🙂

  5. Sounds like an excellent idea! I wish you luck.

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