Last year at about this time I announced my plans to concentrate on short fiction during 2018. How did that work out for me, you ask?
Pretty well, all things considered. I had eight stories published this year, and while I haven’t added up the exact word count, the total is probably around the length of one of my novels.
What’s more important is that I have a much better understanding of the craft of short fiction than I did at this time last year. Starting with the fact that this is what I should have been doing all along.
In the introduction to his collection Burning Chrome, William Gibson says that the short story is the ideal medium for Science Fiction in the same way that the single is the ideal medium for Rock ‘n’ Roll.
And while there are excellent SF novels out there (Gibson himself went on to write several) I think there is a core of truth to that. Nor is it limited to Science Fiction–tales of the fantastic in general often lose their impact when drawn out for too long.
I believe that much of the malaise affecting genre fiction today (and the loss of readership) can be traced to the decline of short fiction during the last few decades.
Fortunately I think that is turning around. This past year I have had the pleasure of working with several small presses (Superversive, Cirsova, Millhaven, and newcomer Lagrange) that are working to provide platforms for short fiction.
In addition I’ve assisted with a couple of self-published anthologies put together by indie authors. That’s a trend I want to encourage, so if you’ve got an idea for a collection but aren’t sure how to go about it, drop me a line.
There are several reasons why I feel that short fiction is the medium for me, and not the least of them is the collaborative nature of anthology publishing. I enjoy working not only with publishers but also with other authors. There is a shared energy to being part of an anthology project and it’s fun to see how other authors approach a particular theme. Not to mention spreading the load of promoting the finished product.
There is also a freedom that comes from working in the short form. You can explore ideas that wouldn’t support a novel length project. You can take more risks, play with the subject matter and the form, go off in random directions. Readers will put up with a lot more abuse if they know it’s only going to last ten thousand words and not a hundred thousand.
So, in closing, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and see where it takes me. I’ve already got one exciting project lined up for the spring, and several other promising markets to pursue.