Snowstorms = reading time and musings on short stories

Despite waiting on the edge of my seat for it, I failed to announce its arrival here as I’d intended. While I was gone in Europe last month, my contributor copy of Queer Dimensions finally arrived. It wasn’t until I had it in my hands (without paying for it) that I truly could accept it: yes, this is my short story in a real book.

A snowstorm kept me stranded at my parents’ place from Christmas Eve day until this morning (quite happily, I might add, except for missing my kitties, who I’d made provisions for before leaving). Rather than visiting relatives on Christmas Day like we usually do, we hung around the house being lazy and eating sweets and leftover Christmas ham. And I finally got the chance to start reading Queer Dimensions.

I told myself I wouldn’t allow myself to read the printed version of my story until I got to it by reading through all the stories before it, so that I could experience it “in context.” I felt quite apprehensive about starting this collection, knowing that the quality of the work would directly reflect on the quality of my own submission. I’m a little dismayed by the editorial errors in the book (missing words or punctuation here and there, errors any way you slice them, in addition to some stylistic choices that are different from those I would have made). This seems to be a fairly common drawback of small-press publishing, in which editorial resources are limited (usually to the owner of the press). However, I’ve been impressed by the quality of the short stories themselves — so many different ways to approach both queer fiction and science fiction, with strong, talented voices and characters and images that linger in my mind. When it comes to the quality of the writing, I feel quite honored to be included amongst these pieces.

It’s also served as an interesting addition to my quest to better understand the short story genre. Each story seems to contain a little “aha!” moment for me — ah, so that makes a short story! And what do you know, so does that? I’m still so enmeshed in the novel genre that I think my own short stories arrange themselves a bit like “mini novels,” with a string of events building up to bigger events before the resolution. One thing I’m continually in awe of is the fact that, in a short story, only one thing really needs to happen — one moment to justify the existence of all the other words in the story. I’m still working on understanding these moments, on knowing exactly when I have one, and how to encase it within the rest of the story. It’s a new challenge to my writing practice, and a refreshing change in my reading one. It’s a journey that I’m enjoying very much indeed.