Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May - Month of the Short Story

This blog is not about the pros and cons of self-publishing. It’s not about publishing at all. It’s about writing.

A few years back when I’d completed my first novel, I joined a writers’ group, the now defunct WIT (Writers in Transition). The illustrious leader, my mentor Peggy Fletcher, insisted I start writing short stories. I protested. Nooooo, I’m a novelist. She explained that my novel would get more attention if editors and publishers knew my work. Write and submit short stories to build exposure. Fill your bio with accomplishments.

As always, Peggy was right. I persevered with the short stories, even though they are a challenge for me, and realized the gratification of seeing them in print and running online. Receiving honoury mentions and, as if that wasn’t enough, winning contests. It gives accreditation and validation to my work. And, to be honest, it makes me squeal with delight. I also write a monthly magazine column.

In spite of this, I wince when asked if I’m published. I automatically say no. Why? Because I still consider myself as a novelist and my novels are not published. The numerous short stories in journals and anthologies, and the magazine column, don’t come to mind when someone asks about my writing. I’ve zoned in on novels. Everything else is unimportant – or so it seemed.

Initial soul searching exposed my resentment at writing columns, blogs, stories... After all, it’s time consuming and I could be working on my current novel. Or marketing my finished novels. Or reading. Why, then, am I choosing to spend writing-time on short stories?

More soul searching. Over time, I’ve not only accepted, I’ve embraced the challenge of shorter works.

Deeper soul searching. It’s become satisfying. Don’t get me wrong, my novels are still foremost on my mind but short stories satisfy a hunger. There, I’ve admitted it. Writing shorts is like a pleasurable indulgence.

May is Short Story Month. Short stories have re-gained popularity and respectability. Anthologies are becoming more important. Since I don’t have my very own anthology, I wasn’t giving credit to my success in other anthologies. How crazy is that? I need to show a little more respect for my own work if I want recognition for it.

At a recent conference, I didn’t even admit to being a writer in a show of hands. Maybe because I haven’t reached my goal to be a published ‘novelist’. So, for the record, yes, I’m a writer. I’m a published writer. I’m a columnist. I’m a blogger. I have a writer facebook page and each new ‘like’ excites me. I’m a member of Crime Writers of Canada. And finally, yes, I am a novelist. No, I don’t have a published novel. Not yet. I will.

In the meantime, I’ll create short stories. Criminal, shocking, suspenseful short stories. After all, May is the month of the Short Story.