Saturday, 30 July 2011

I do not consider myself

- despite yesterday's blogpost - to be a writer of short stories.
The topic came up again yesterday afternoon. I took Nicola Morgan's book "Write to be Published" along to the library. I had been telling a member of the knitting group about the portion which talks about "dealing with taxi drivers". Her day job can produce a similar reaction and she wanted to read it.
After looking at the book she asked me, "Does the author write short stories?" I told her I did not know. I had not read any. (Nicola if you are reading this you might let me know!) Why was she asking? The book is laid out in bite size chunks and it made her wonder.
Then she asked me whether I had written any and I said, "No, not really - just a couple." I do not suppose that is any sort of answer but it was the one I gave.
I have written two Tom and Lizzie stories. The first one appeared in 100 stories for Haiti under the title "And the first note sang". I came home from an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a friend becoming a nun. As Polly is not in the least bit nun-like it had been good fun rather than a solemn occasion. I sat down at the computer to do something entirely different - and wrote the story. It just happened. I have no idea where it came from.
Yesterday's story just happened too. I have no idea where it came from either.
I rather suspect that both stories were heavily influenced by reading the late (and great) Joan Aiken. Her short stories for children still have to be the best I have ever read.
As a child I was not particularly interested in short stories. If they were good in the way Aiken is good I wanted more story. If they were mediocre or poor in the way that I found Enid Blyton to be then my reaction tended to be "so what?". Even as an adult I feel the same way. I probably should read more short stories than I do. It would be good discipline but I am not a disciplined leisure reader. I have too much reading to do in my day job for that. I read for my own writing too - both the research and what is being written by others. When I read for pleasure I do not expect to be required to read something because it has won an award or because it is on the best seller list of the day.
That means I probably do not read enough short stories to write them well. Nevertheless Tom and Lizzie are there and they might want me to write more. I just do not know.


Charmaine Clancy said...

I struggle with short stories so you're doing well. I'll also check out that writing book, it sounds good.

Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

catdownunder said...

Yes Charmaine, do check out Write To Be Published if you can. It really is excellent.

Fiona Faith Maddock said...

I endorse those comments. It is an excellent book and I find it extremely useful.

JO said...

I can echo the praise for Nicola's book.

And the value of reading short stories - when they are good, they are wonderful. But so many are, well, so-so - which shows just how good they are to write.

And I try writing short stories for practice - using prompts from websites when I haven't any ideas at all. Most of them are rubbish, but I find it a useful way of keeping the writing juices flowing. (I blogged about writing practice the other day, if anyone is interested.)

Nicola Morgan said...

Thanks for all your comments re WTBP! No, Cat, I don't write short stories. I don't generally read them so I'm not equipped to write them. I admire them occasionally, though. But I far prefer novels.