Craft, Editor, Fiction, Novel, Poetry, Publish, Query, Short story, Writing

The long and short of it

Yesterday, I spent hours—again—researching literary magazines. My goal is to have at least two stories and maybe a poem in submission by October. I’m not sure I have a talent for writing short stories. I feel more confident in my novel writing ability.

I give story writing a good shot every so often, but somehow, the voice I have when novel writing weakens in my stories. Some feel if you truly have the skills for writing fiction, you should be able to write it long and short. But I know other novelists who either stumble at writing short fiction or refuse to even try.

Story writing is a challenge to me. For some reason, I feel obligated to succeed at it, at least once. I feel the same about poetry—even though that definitely requires a different skill set than fiction writing. Maybe I’m just a bit masochistic.

I have a couple stories I think are worth submitting. But, like querying a novel to the right agent, it’s important to find the right magazine for your story. The few literary magazines I’m subscribed to now, are far beyond my level. Only in my dreams would they accept my work.

It takes an enormous amount of time to read online journals, looking for a good match. And I’ll confess that, like agents, a few mags I thought would be perfect, did not agree with my assessment. A rejection yesterday, came so soon after submission, it seems they didn’t even need to read the whole story. That’s a real confidence shaker. Or maybe that editor’s a speed reader. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Now, your turn. Do you write both short and long fiction? Do you write them equally well? Do you also write poetry?

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46 thoughts on “The long and short of it”

  1. I used to feel that way, especially because my friends (like Cassie) were being so successful at writing short stories and getting them published. I felt like it was something I should be doing as well, and that by not doing it, I was hurting my chances of ever being published. But then it occured to me that I had to look at it objectively: what’s more important to me, my novel or a short story? The answer was immediately obvious that my time is better spent working on something that I have pride in and that is meaningful, than on something that I’m doing just because I think I ought to be. Especially now that I have a job… My writing time has become shorter, at least for right now, and I have to focus on what counts the most.


    1. That’s partly why I feel pressured to write shorts, Chibi. That and all these agents asking you to cite your publication credits in your query. My bio is about two sentences … and neither of them cite publication. 😦

      But if it came down to a choice, novel writing would win for me too. No question.


  2. I always thought I’d write novels and only novels. I didn’t get short stories, or more to the point didn’t get HOW to write them. How can you convey emotions into 1,000 words? Only when I started writing them weekly for Fiction Friday did I realise I can do it. It took months for me to realise it though. Practice, practice, practice 🙂


    1. I think that’s at least part of the problem. I don’t really want to spend my writing time on stories when there are novels waiting. But, yay you for overcoming your trepidation/misunderstanding.


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