This post is dedicated to all the demanding and pushy short stories out there, currently pestering their writers and demanding to be turned into something bigger.
I read a great quote yesterday from a Barnes & Nobel article where a short story was described as a literary iceberg, tales with so many ideas unseen below the surface. This is exactly what I think they are, I just wish they were not so demanding.
If you’ve never been stalked by a short story that you once wrote – you’ve led a sheltered writer’s life!
This is what happens:
- You write a short story.
- Edit it, revise it, enter it into a few competitions if you’re feeling groovy or put it away in a folder or a drawer sighing with creative contentment. In your head your work is done here and it is time to move onto something else.
- Your short story, however, has other ideas…
- It refuses to leave you alone, climbing into your head whilst you sleep and turning up in your dreams…uninvited.
- As you rise in the morning you feel its presence inside your mind. You go about your daily life trying to ignore it and whispering inwardly ‘you were just a short story, a creative fling…a bit of writing passion.’
- But it doesn’t go away.
- A week later and it is still stalking you in the small hours, hanging out with you whilst you clean the loo and sat in the passenger seat as you drive to work.
- It starts to whisper ‘stop playing games. Write more of me,‘ and those fateful words, ‘I should be a novel!’
Here’s my advice on handling this challenging situation.
Expect to enter a denial phase. In your head you will run through all the reasons why you can’t write more of this short story; it was only meant to be a bit of fun and you’re not looking for anything serious after finishing your last draft novel.
Try to bury the positives at the back of your head; it was a bloody good story, it made you forget about that damn virus for a few days, you’ve read about the successful novels starting out life as a short story (Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey,) and even though you’d like to deny it there was a spark of something with this particular short story.
Prepare for the short story stalking phase to last a long time. Some stories refuse to leave you alone and I hate to say this, but I have heard of short story stalking going on for weeks and even months. Short stories have ideas way above their literary station.
Expect short stories to PLAY DIRTY! Short stories can be demanding and troublesome literary beings. They can be very determined and will do whatever it takes to get into your thoughts.
Expect all sorts of weird stuff happening to you. Your short story is trying to get your attention.
If you have other stuff planned like you have an existing project to get finished then you need to be strong with the short story. Good luck with that.
If you haven’t got anything that needs finishing then…accept defeat. This short story you have written is way more powerful than you. Go on – be a devil. Write it and turn it into something bigger.
What has been your experience with short stories?
Have a fabulous day!