I keep wondering whether I should just stop worrying about short stories and focus on novels. I just finished Unnatural Creatures, a short story anthology, but it took much longer than it should have because I just didn’t want to read it.
Short stories are so hit or miss for me. For every good one, there’s a terrible one where I’m so bored I want to toss the book away. Plus there’s having to jump into another world, then another world, and it’s tiresome. It’s like playing eight video games at the same time, one a day. You are too distributed into one world to fall into another. The plots are fine, but it’s like a fraction of an experience. They are cookies.
And that’s just reading. If I don’t care for reading, why would I like writing them? Maybe it’s just not in my ouvre to do it. I might write one if I want to experiment with a style or some new thing, but I don’t know… I get ideas for short stories, or what I think are short stories, but they could easily turn into novels. Like the one about the guy in love with a 50 foot woman. Who wouldn’t want to see how their relationship starts? How they go through the problems of both a typical and atypical relationship? Like a romance novel. (And I corner the macrophile market.) Or Fairy Kingdom? Hell, that’s not a flash fiction, that’s a novel outline. I’m already turning one of my short stories into possibly a series.
There are people who pump out novels like candy. I’m not sure I’m one of those, but I think I might like to enjoy what I’m doing. Instead of struggling through 5,000 words of what I don’t like. Not to mention the constant slog of reading submission guidelines (“We want your best! We want stories that grip us and never let go! Why aren’t you writing that?!”), formatting manuscripts for that outlier publisher who wants one space between sentences instead of two. It feels asinine and time-consuming and I feel like it’s not moving me forward. Not in a direction I want to go at least.
And John Scalzi says you don’t need to write short stories in order to become a published novelist. I’m not sure what you do need to write, but novels are probably a good start.