I’d forgotten how much fun it is to write shorter fiction.
The vast majority of my writing time over the past few years has been devoted to longer formats. The Weather Man was the longest thing I’d ever finished. I’m still working on a second novel. And even though The New Devil is serialized and each entry is only around three hundred words, every update needs to be firmly tied in to the same characters, the same settings and the same plot lines.
And then I wrote a short story. I haven’t done that in years. It was really refreshing to come up with a simple idea, a small set of characters, and a short conflict with a brief resolution. And then I sat down and hammered it out in less than five thousand words. Working on a novel can really drag. The time between the excitement of inception and the rush of completion can often stretch out across years. Writing this short story kind of rekindled the magic of writing–it reminded me of all the things that I loved while avoiding some of the things I find more grueling.
I prefer longer formats. I find them more enjoyable and more rewarding both as a reader and as a writer. But I guess I’d forgotten, over the years, how valuable shorter formats can be. I’ve read ten-line poems that have been more beautiful and meaningful than three-hundred-page novels. Writing this short story has also reminded me that it’s the content, not the length, that really matters.
I think that’s a useful thing to keep in mind regardless of what medium you work in.