Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fighting for commitment while writing

I'm working on a short story at the moment. For some's been a struggle to get myself to focus on it. Not just on this story, actually--on any short story, it seems. I've been spending so much time on revising this past year-plus that I haven't done as much new writing anyway, but I'm trying to understand why short stories specifically have been more of a struggle. When I think about it, it seems that I really haven't been writing nearly as many short stories in the past year or two, so it's not just a recent thing.

Flash fiction has been easy, I think because I don't end up with as much invested in them. And the novel-length stuff I've done hasn't given me fits either, which perhaps is because of the manic NaNo kickstart that doesn't let me question. With a short story, though, I have dozens of fragments that came from writing exercises with no idea where they might end up going. A number of them are fragments that seem to hold good promise. Whenever I sit down to try to expand one of them, I either end up turning it into a flash story (don't get me wrong--I love flash, and I'm proud of the flash stories I've been sending out on submissions) or I end up doing revisions or getting distracted instead.

So, one of my goals over the next few months is to get a few decent short stories written. Perhaps they'll come from one of those writing exercise fragments, which is the case with the one I'm working on at the moment (and I think I've got it to the point where I'm past that uncertainty/unwillingness to commit), perhaps they'll be inspired by a themed anthology or writing prompt or something of the sort, and perhaps they'll just come out of nowhere. But whatever the case, I'd like to write at least one short story per month for the next three or four months, in addition to whatever revising I have planned, and see what that does for getting me past this sort-of block in my head.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Enchanted Conversation: a Fairy Tale Magazine

Enchanted Conversation - A Fairy Tale magazine Ralan's has had this new market listed for a little while now (not completely new, but an updated and revamped zine), but in case anyone hasn't had a chance to notice that, I thought I'd point it out here. Each issue will be themed around a particular fairy tale or fairy tale trope. There are certain fairy tales that I've seen turned into short stories so often over the past few years, that I'm hesitant about those particular stories...but I always like to be surprised by either a new, previously unfamiliar tale or a new take on one I'd thought I already knew too well to bother.

The word count is short, and the submission window even shorter, so if you're interested in writing something for it (the next theme is Rumpelstilkskin), check out their guidelines. The first issue of the year will come out on March 20.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Short Fiction Thursday

I've just finished reading "A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong" by K. J. Parker, and it's a wonderful story. The narrator is a musician, accomplished and technically skilled, but so fearful of failure that his works never achieve the genius he aspires to...that is, until certain events conspire to twist his life around. The title really expresses where the story gets its power from: underlying what is a well told tale--with a complex character and arc and series of events--is that question of what price is great art worth. What cost, in life of others and freedom of self and dignity and truth, is too much to pay to create something of absolute genius?

This week I also enjoyed Corie Ralston's "Mamafield." A very different story from the other, it's a story told from the point of view of a sentient plant who (that?) is apparently capable of walking but so far has only ever known the area around its mother plant. One of the plant's siblings, though, has journeyed, and this has made that sibling anathema to both the mother and all those who had remained behind. After reading it and deciding it was worth mentioning here, I stumbled across Lois Tilton's review in Locus, and she took issue with the logic of the story. I can see her argument, but I tend to enjoy stories told from a strange perspective in general, and I think the strength of that voice still carries the story.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


My favorite kind of whimsy has a bite. It skates playfully across the surface of the abyss with a subtext that refuses to let you forget the abyss is there, that the ice is thin, that water is deep, deep down to unimaginable darkness and weight.