After completing another manuscript in May, I stepped a little out of my comfort zone.
I’ve always been a rambling writer. Novels are my medium. But I’ve heard so often that writing short stories can do many things, but these two things specifically:
- Exercise your writing abilities (because you can play around with genre, tone, style, etc., far easier than with an entire novel).
- Get you a foot in the door (apparently, if you’ve had short stories published it gets an agent’s attention).
And both of those things are … pretty good.
For a few months, I scoured the internet for short story competitions, and prompts, and ideas, and I’ve written a couple, submitted them even (which I’m proud of myself for, because that is way out of my comfort zone). And it’s been… interesting.
On the one hand, I enjoyed it, because it allowed me to flex my creative muscles, while not committing to an entire manuscript or fantasy world. It felt good to place the final full-stop and know it was done – especially when I was submitting them – and it was also fun to write in different genres, or based on prompts somebody else gave me.
But on the other, more weighty hand, it didn’t really fulfil me. None of these stories really meant all that much, and I also didn’t really feel like I’d learned anything significant. I started this venture because I wanted to improve my sentence structure, to try and find different ways of writing the same twenty feelings humans have. But it didn’t really do that. I was still writing the same, and editing the same.
Then, I thought, maybe I’m not trying hard enough, not flexing my creative muscles enough.
Which seems like a reasonable conclusion to make.
But, the logical response to that is – do I want to try harder?
The honest answer is… I don’t know.
And so we come to my conundrum.
- Do I continue to scour the internet and try my hand at writing short stories that are a little fun, but don’t really affect anything in my life at all?
- Do I stop wasting time on that, and instead work on the novels that I do enjoy working with, even though they are really time-consuming and take so much more out of me?
Am I wasting time with short stories? They’ve never come easily to me. I am much more naturally inclined to create bigger stories, and creating characters is basically my drug. Or maybe I’m going about this writing-short-stories thing all wrong. Any short story aficionados want to give me some tips? Should I keep at it? Will it make me a better novel-writer, or help in any way? Or should I just throw the towel in there, and go back to what I know I absolutely enjoy, and am moderately better at?