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2024: The Year of Short Stories

I can’t remember who said it, but a writer once said “Try writing a short story a week for a year. You can’t write 52 short stories and have them all be bad.”

I think I can prove them wrong.

After nine novels and no bites (by “bite” I mean requests for a partial manuscript) I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing. I’m not sure what’s going wrong. (See previous entry about unhelpful rejection letters). But they say only a fool keeps doing the same thing expecting different results. So I need to do something different. I need to get back to basics. Figure out the fundamentals.

So this year is going to be the year of short stories. No novels this year. Last year I finished the second drafts of two novels and had to put Replaneted in the trunk. I can’t keep going through this same cycle thinking “Oh, THIS’LL be the story that puts me on the map.” Because that just isn’t happening. Maybe I need to build up my resume, my credentials. I know the conventional wisdom is that you don’t need to have short fiction credits to get a novel published, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me.

The problem is I hate short fiction. I’ve written about it before, how it has no real place in today’s literary landscape, no one reads any, all the famous ones you read are from a century ago. It’s become what poetry became–relegated to Hallmark cards and Facebook posts from your weird aunt. Obsolete form and style as silent movies or magic lantern shows. I can barely stand to read them. I can barely stand to write them.

But maybe that’s why I need to do it. I need to take some time to do some Rocky training on top of a snowy Russian mountain.

When I think of stories, I think about them as novels. I get the central idea and then it stretches and stretches into a long form with multiple threads, multiple facets of the theme, like a Beethoven symphony. Probably because I’ve read thousands of novels and not thousands of short stories — it’s ingratiated in my brain patterns to think of stories as novels. But maybe if I disrupt that pattern, my hope is my writing will get better. At least I’ll have some stuff to sell. If half the stuff I make is saleable, I’ll be happy.

Which then leads to the question, where am I going to get my ideas? All my notes are for novels, not short fiction. I’m not about style, I’m about content. But I’ll be the first to admit my style is lacking. Maybe the short fiction can help me hone my voice. I mean, I have a big jar of writing prompts to dig into, but I feel like those are for practice. Short stories are about an emotional punch, not immersion. And I have as much connection to my emotions as an autistic Vulcan.

So yes, this will be the year of short stories for me. One per week, or at least that’s the goal. I may be saying hello to Duotrope in 2025.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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