On Short-form writing

I love short-form writing.  I like reading short stories and such. Writing in the short-form (short stories, novellas, and novelettes) is challenging and very fun.  I typically write a short story when I have writer’s block.  Instead of beating my head on the desk wondering how to make my imaginary friends play with me, I just create a new idea and write that instead.  Some of these short stories are terrible.  I mean awful, unfit for human consumption.  Vogon poetry bad (+10 points for those of you who get this joke). Others are rambling, stream-of-consciousness nonsense (which can be fun to write).  A few of them have been decent.  For the decent (or better) ones, I then get to try to find the best venue in which to ply my wares.  I could whine and bemoan how literary journals are no longer interested in speculative fiction short stories by unknown authors, but I wont.  But while I love to write short stories, I find that when it comes to short novels I’m a bit of a snob.

Many modern fantasy authors seem to have a preference for writing extreme long-form works.  And don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with writing 350,000 or more words in a single tome.  I frankly think that Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss are two of the finest authors alive, but man do they love to write wordy books.

So why is it when I see the word count on my novels that I feel so disappointed?  Nearly 60,000 words is nothing at which to sneeze.  Somewhere along the way I think that I got my brain into the idea that Fantasy and Science Fiction books are supposed to be epic both story-wise as well as word count-wise.  Now neither of these are true.  Plenty of great stories have been shorter than 60,000 words and many have been longer. But, then I’m not trying to do what other authors are.  Well, at the bedrock I am attempting to do the same thing they are: convince readers that my stories are worth their time. I’m just trying to do it in a different manner.

I wonder what the world’s view regarding such things.  Is there a “minimum” at which a story is not long enough to publish outside of a blog?  I certainly don’t think so, but yet my prejudice for these word counts persists.  Very odd.

So now I have to come to terms with a) the fact that I love reading a truly epic book (such as Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings). And b) how to reconcile the publication of my significantly shorter works.  Perhaps I will begin posting some of my short stories on my blog.

Sigh.  Back to trying to convince my imaginary friends to play with me.

–CL

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