Short Story Epiphany

Well, it’s official–or at least as official as some notes jotted down on paper: I’m going to write another short story. This after my epiphany of realizing that not everything needs to be a novel.

This may seem obvious, but it wasn’t to me. I think it’s natural for our creativity to run on a similar track to what we  feed it, and since I was 10, my life and my mind have been filled with novels. Every time I had a story idea, I assumed that it was actually a novel idea. I’ve let each story nugget percolate in my brain until it collected enough subplots and story arcs and character development to become a novel. If it never “grew” to novel proportions, then it never got written.

Recently, I’ve realized that some stories just don’t want to grow to novel proportions. Some of them want to be enough just the way they are. And this changes my perspective because, in my handful of unsuccessful short story attempts before “The Man in the Mirror,” I always felt so stressed out by the genre, always felt like I had to somehow squeeze a novel into ten pages. I was too ambitious in my story arcs, or not ambitious enough. Most of all, I just didn’t think in short stories because I didn’t read them.

I recently made a resolution to start studying and understanding the form of short stories a bit better, since they’re much easier to “place” than novels. Although I haven’t yet officially embarked on the study, it has been happening organically over the last few years. I knew a good short story when I saw it as an editor for New Moon Girls magazine; I got to work with a very talented short story writer in my writers’ group; and I’ve taken to reading short stories in the bathtub (my new home came with everything a girl could need except a shower). Now I realize that a lot of those little “story-lets” in my mind may just be short stories waiting to happen — not novels that will never get written. I can’t wait to explore the possibilities.