A switch in priorities
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.