Friday, 15 May 2009 Measuring Up

I’m not a prolific writer, by any means. I write as much as I can as often as I can, but it’s never enough. I need to write more, pure and simple.

I also need to focus more and decide what it is I really want to write. I love writing short stories and flash – can’t say I love the dejection when they come back with a ‘thanks, but no thanks,’ but that’s all part of the dance.

It’s the potential for impact that I enjoy about writing (and reading) flash. The short, sharp kick in the guts that can really, really hurt. The sudden, unexpected brutality of a blow to the head that leaves you reeling. The tight, concise story you can read in five minutes, but can linger like a shadow at your feet for days.

I’m thinking here of the likes of Richard Christian Matheson, whose Scars and Other Distinguishing Marks collection, is something I’ll happily revisit again and again. All of which are fantastic examples of what flash has to offer (hell, it wasn’t even called flash back then). Of course, his dad told a pretty mean tale too, but that’s a post for another day.

Flash seems so suited to the instant gratification fix of today too. Does anyone really want to read a 5000 word short story on a back-lit computer screen? Well, hopefully...

It seems I’ve digressed a little. What I wanted to say was along of the lines of: I’ll always write flash and short stories, but one day I’ll need to seriously knuckle down to something longer, maybe even that novel I keep thinking about. Radical, I know.

The single longest piece I’ve written so far (at the start of what will hopefully be a long journey in this writing game) clocks in at around 9000 words. What kind of useless length is that? Is that a ridiculously long short story or a ridiculously short novelette? Either way, it’s a tough sell.

Now, I enjoyed writing every one of those 9000 words, but the end result is probably no use to man nor beast.

Maybe I’ll try for a novella (something else I’ve always been keen on) before attempting the big, scary novel. One step at a time.

So, focus Boney, focus.


Michael Stone said...

My attitude has always been a story will be as long as it needs to be, and no more. You're right, though, 9k is an awkward word length from a commercial perspective. Boyd Harris and Frank Hutton of The Butchershop Quartet anthology will look at stories of that length if it falls under the heading "a horror adventure". For all genres there is They'll look at stuff up to 11k approx. Worth a try?

Anyway, good luck with your endeavours.

Benjamin Solah said...

I understand where you're coming from. I'm loving flash and short fiction at the moment. Your latest on 52 stitches was one of the best I've read in a while but that collection you mention sound good.

I got to 30k words in a fantasy novel a few years back but didn't have the stamina to keep going with it.

Rebecca Nazar said...

I think I've established through my blog posts that I have no idea what I'm doing, so I'm not one to dispense any sort of insight or advice about writing.

Just know, my bloggerly friend: I feel your pain. ;-)

L.R. Bonehill said...

Michael – Couldn’t agree more; the story dictates the length of the... well, the story. Hence the 9k is still sitting at 9k. It feels right, to me at least.

Thanks for the submission info. Horror adventure? Never tried that to be honest, could be fun though.

Benjamin – Thanks a lot, glad you liked the story. I’m pretty sure the RCM book is long out of print unfortunately – worth a look on E-Bay though. I highly recommend it; there are some great, great stories in there.

Rebecca – It’s pretty clear I don’t know what I’m doing either; nothing wrong with playing it all by ear. We’ll get there, one way or another.

Anonymous said...

So what are you doing in November? Nanowrimo? I enjoy flash fic the most, as well, and struggle drawing the story out. But I managed to write three novels in the last three years doing nano. Give yourself permission to write fast, write a lot, and edit it at a saner time.

Come on. Everybody else is doing it. Jooooooiiiiin usssssssss.


L.R. Bonehill said...

Mercedes – Kudos on Nanowrimo. I’d like to join in, I really would... but it scares me.