Advice, Block, Craft, Doubt, Fiction, Publish, Short story, Writing

A story! A story? A tale of fear!

All my sources tell me that, as a new indie author, I need to publish more work soon. Writing a novel is not quick work for me. I have a story that might run novella length—might. I haven’t written it yet, of course. Another option is a short story collection.

Until the last couple of years, I’ve never been a big short story reader. I’ve written some, but they were for my own eyes. But, in the last year, I’ve greatly increased the number of short stories I read. I also read articles on how to write short fiction. I’m still not sure I get it.

I’m also not sure why I don’t get it. It’s almost as though I have a mental block. I think I write a beginning, middle, and end, but it doesn’t seem like a story to me. Is it a vignette? Is that a story?

Does a story require a moral? A lesson? A reason to exist? Am I over-thinking this? Probably. I fear I can’t write short stories. Then again, I fear I can’t write anything. FEAR.

I’d like to say I bravely take up my pen keyboard and wield it like a sword, but that would be a lie. The truth is I sit here quivering. I sit here wishing, hoping, praying that the words I’m typing make sense … have a purpose … tell a story.

That’s what I’m busy with nowadays. And I thank Christ Craig for her recent post reminding me that I have to face that fear or I’ll never know if I’ve written a story at all.

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27 thoughts on “A story! A story? A tale of fear!”

    1. Well, John, not only to stay in the public eye, but to have a back catalog so when someone reads one of your books and likes it, they can immediately read another. If they like two or three or more of your books, you’ve probably gained a fan for life. I am not a quick writer, and if I had thought this thing through, I wouldn’t have published until I had two or three or more books ready to go.

      No, I haven’t read the book you cited, but I too appreciate the short form for the reason you stated. Time is severely crunched now, so if I read a story or two a week, I feel like I’m accomplishing something.


  1. Short stories mean different things to different people. There are so many different styles! For a long time, I didn’t *get* them either, though I like to think that I do now. I think reading a lot of other short stories helps, if you can find a collection that really speaks to you and pull it apart to find out what makes it work, it will help you crack it. For me, this was Greg Egan’s Axiomatic. Good on you for giving it a go, they scared the hell out of me but once I got more confident, I fell in love. There will always be a place for short stories in my life now 🙂 Hope you find the love, too!


  2. The word “soon” is probably one of the reasons for all the fear and angst out there. Why soon? A novel takes several years from the first thoughts to its completion, a good novel that is. Short stories, good ones, take quite some time, too. And in order to gain an audience with short stories, you have to write quite a few of them.

    My first novel took me 5 years all in all, from the beginning to its publication. The second one, which is quite a bit shorter, took about one year–but only because I had a rough manuscript to work from, which also took a few years.

    Every once in a while, you produce good work within a short time, but that’s rare. So, I think we should forget about the “soon” and just write as long as it takes.

    BUT I’m going to lose all those readers I have been cultivating. They are going to switch to other authors. I’ll be forgotten.

    No way, not someone who writes such a great novel as The Brevity! Keep in touch by writing a blog post here and there, perhaps put a poem on your blog, some great pictures, a joke. Twitter, FB. Share part of a WIP. You’re doing all this?

    So what are your worried about? LOL. All this wonderful advice I’m giving you is also meant for me!


    1. I wish I had your confidence, Christa. I feel extremely pressured to get the next book out. The gurus say that you can’t expect to make any money until you have 7-10 books published. In that case, I won’t ever enjoy a paying career because, at the rate I write a novel, I’ll be senile before I can write that many books. I guess I’ll have to settle for just entertaining a few fans.


  3. If your in the group of writers that also has a day job, like me, writing takes awhile. If you feel you need to keep up your literary presence in between novels or novellas there are several things you could do. Post on a blog 4 times a week, write flash fiction for #fridayflash, submit short stories to anthologies or literary magazines, partisipate in #tuesdayserial and/or creat a twitter account for one of your characters. There are so many ways social media can boost you as a writer. Honestly, I wouldn’t fret to much about getting one done lickety-split. Writing does take some time.


    1. Thank you for weighing in, Lara. I don’t have a day job … but writing a novel still takes me awhile. I do post on this blog three times a week, which is all I can handle … and more than my readers are interested in. 😉 I have to say Tweeting as one of my characters sounds like fun. Hmmm, which one? 🙂


  4. I sit here wishing, hoping, praying that the words I’m typing make sense … have a purpose … tell a story. And by now, you’re experienced enough that you know if those first words you type don’t quite tell the story, the editing process will craft it into something you love. Have fun getting your hands dirty with the story/novella and letting it find its legs.


    1. I do know that, Cathryn, and editing is my favorite part, but I always wonder if I’m wasting my time. Take the story I just finished, is it worth editing or would I just be putting lipstick on a pig?


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