Saturday, April 20, 2013

So, you want to be a short story writer?

You are insane.   For the love of God nobody in their right mind wants to be a short story writer!  Instead we just want to write and the result is usually short stories, not twenty pound tomes that produce large advances and book tours. Instead, those of us afflicted with short-story-itis get the crumbs of the publishing table, a few cents a word, each penny scant reward for the gallons of blood, sweat, and tears involved producing these small gems.  Worse, there is no reward for the thousands of words painfully created and then even more painfully edited down into a tight, well-crafted final draft.  On that basis the payments are less than mills per word and sometimes, micro mills.

Of course, this paltry compensation applies to novelists as well - writing ain't for cowards or those who aspire to wealth. On the other hand few novelists reap the reward of frequently seeing their name in magazines or among anthology table of contents and, rarely, on the covers.  Unfortunately, few readers of short stories ever remember the writers.  Oh, they might remember the plot, sometimes the characters, or become bemused by the setting, and probably like some bit of inspired dialogue, but the writer's name - hardly ever.  Which is why so few fans show up at a convention's short story writer's reading save a few friends who are there more out of pity than interest, or someone who just wants to have a good seat for the next reader, a novelist who will, no doubt, pack the room.  Yeah, been there, done that.

But we short story writers continue to attend conventions, clustering in the bar to console one another, to talk craft, bemoan the diminishing word rates, and inwardly revel in the sheer joy of being with others who love writing in the short form.

Yeah, you have to be insane to write short, but it is a joyous form of crazy.

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