By Julie Tollefson
Earlier this month, Kathleen wrote of her love of shortstories and especially the challenge of writing for themed anthologies. As May is Short Story Month, it seems appropriate to piggyback on her post with
my own tribute to the short form.
As a reader, short stories fill a void when I crave a bit of
fiction but don’t have the time or attention span to tackle a more hefty work.
My son graduated from high school a week ago, and the month leading up to
graduation was filled with “lasts”—last band concert, last forensics banquet,
last play, and on and on. Add a healthy dose of preparing for college (endless
forms to fill out and decisions to make) and life got a bit hectic. Short
stories allowed me to escape the madness into bite-sized fictional worlds where
satisfaction could be had in half an hour or less.
As a writer, I have a soft spot for short stories because my
first fiction publishing credit came as part of Fish Nets: The Second Guppy Anthology (Wildside Press, 2013) from
the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. With that story (“Keeping Up
Appearances”), I proved to myself that I could write a complete story from
beginning to end. Until that time, I had pieces of stories, a half-finished
novel, and a lot of ideas, none of which had come together into a solid,
coherent tale. With “Appearances,” though, I edited and revised, edited and
revised again, submitted, and eventually saw print.
Lessons? Finish what you start. Have confidence in yourself.
Seeing your words in print in a book that other people will read is a blast.
Each story I’ve published since then—two in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and
“Fractured Memories” in Flash and Bang: A Short Mystery Fiction Society Anthology (Untreed Reads, 2015)— reinforced
those lessons. Each success gives an extra boost to the self-confidence and an
extra kick in the you-know-what to write more, finish more, submit more.
Two more things before I wrap up my ode to the short story.
The Short Mystery Fiction Society is celebrating Short Story Month by
highlighting members’ stories. Visit the SMFS blog
for links to some fine short reads.
Sisters in Crime recently launched a We Love Short Stories
campaign to support short story writers and markets. If you’re a member of
Sisters in Crime, the organization has some nice benefits to help you support
and celebrate the short fiction form. Find out more at the Sisters in Crime website.
Read (or written) any good short stories lately?
Please contact E. B. Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for January include: (1/5) Jennifer J. Chow, (1/12) Amy Pershing, (1/19) Heather Weidner, (1/26) Marilyn Levinson.