The Value of Short Stories

Easy reading is damn hard writing.”–Nathaniel Hawthorne

When I first started writing I never thought about writing short stories. The seeds for a book quickly took root in my brain blocking anything else. Those seeds eventually became a real book, BETWEEN SHADOWS AND DARKNESS. The truth was I wasn’t ready to write short stories that early on. I had to cut my teeth on a manuscript first, a process I’ll never regret. I never really considered myself a short story kind of guy…

Until a few friends of mine contributed short stories to a little something called The Zombie Project.

I was, and still am, on submission with BSD (again) and really didn’t want to commit to another full length project. Lightning struck. I was going to create my very own zombie short story using my friend’s stories as inspiration!

I sat down with the idea of writing about one thousand words. I wanted something short but sweet. The challenge was making just about every word count while moving the tiny plot along in an interesting way. In case you all don’t know it yet, I LOVE a good challenge.

After a few hours I had something I loved and was proud to call my own. My first short story. Ever.

I showed it a handful of writers. Some loved it. Some didn’t. Such is the way of any writer’s work.

Based off various feedback, I tweaked it a bit focusing on the emotional punch at the end. The end result is now known as LABOR OF LOVE. It’s the story of a man trying to survive by any means necessary and the consequences of his actions. After I was finished I knew I had something.

My sister absolutely loves LABOR OF LOVE. Judging by the way she raves about it, she thinks it’s the best thing I’ve written.

That was only the beginning. Three short stories later and I still have plans for two more. You’ll get to read my contribution (titled NOTHING BUT NET) to The Dark Carnival soon. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to shout about it when the time comes.

My point is as long as you’re writing, and creating pieces you’re passionate about, it doesn’t matter how many words they contain. Writing short stories has allowed me a certain sense of freedom by letting me delve into subject matter I normally wouldn’t touch in novel form. It’s been a positive, and creative, release for my inner writer. No rules. No expectations.

Sometimes I think we put too much pressure on ourselves as writers that we forget this is supposed to be fun. Hearing my sister giggle wickedly as she finished LABOR OF LOVE was such an awesome feeling. It made everything else–the fear, the worry, the weight–melt away. Somewhere along the line I’d forgotten what it felt like to write freely. To just let go and see where my fingers took me. One thing’s for sure, I won’t forget it ever again.

If you’re feeling stymied by your WIP and frustrated with where your writing has, or hasn’t gone, take a step back and try writing a short story. It may be the medicine your writing soul needs.

A huge thank you goes out to Chynna-Blue Scott for hosting The Zombie Project, Jolene Haley for hosting The Dark Carnival and sharing her short story THE LIGHT, and Kristen Jett for sharing her short story ONE GIRL, ONE SHOT (pink handled shotguns, FTW!). LABOR OF LOVE wouldn’t exist without you. Sometimes a little inspiration is all a writer needs.

A special thank you goes to my partner in crime, Daphne Shadows, for always being the first to read whatever leaks from the cracks of my twisted mind.

Lastly, thanks to my other fabulous readers  (Tonia, Cat, Amy) who took time from their busy lives to read my short stories. I cherish you all.

There will be a major announcement about LABOR OF LOVE soon. Good things come to those who wait. Yeah, that was totally a tease. 😉

You can find out more about The Zombie Project by following this link: http://chynnablueink.com/the-zombie-project/

You can find out more about The Dark Carnival by following this link: http://penandmuse.com/category/the-dark-carnival/

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