Monday, January 16, 2006

On Short Stories: A Personal Musing in One Part (one official part, but two paragraphs...see)

I don't particularly like short stories. They're premature novels...brain puffs that never got loved into life. They're the angsty stepchild teenagers of the literary world standing bold and defiant amidst their authorities but really longing for love and maturity. Maybe I'm just bitter because I'm no Flannery O'Connor or Annie Proulx. Maybe I'm just mad because I don't think I have a good short story in me. A friend says we all have one novel in us. I happen to know I have four novels in me, but short stories...I don't feel those knocking on the inside of my head antsy to be loosed upon the world. The novels are insistent. Bratty even. They claw and scratch and scramble. Short stories don't whip themselves up in my head. They don't jump around like magic beans.

I feel like I should write short stories. Shouldn't I crawl before I walk? And that's a cliche I wouldn't put into a short story unless it was a particularly naughty one that I felt needed punishing. If I wrote a short story I'd want it to be gritty. Completely unlike me in every visible way. Nothing overly polished or contemporary. I would step half out of myself. I would put the academian aside and embrace my roots. The ones I don't think about too often. I would embrace my upbringing. The one that most "refined" people would hope I'd find embarasssing. The Texas'ness in me. The street dances and the rodeos. The smell of cow shit globbed on the foot rail at the stockyards. Grease and rocks and fried fish. Baby rabbits in shoe boxes--a surprise just for me from my grandpa. Crawfishing with bacon on a string, my grandmother chasing my cousin around with a cigarette in one hand and a flyswatter in the other. "Y'all" and "yestrdy night" and horses and trail rides and thunderstorms. The dirtiest, most prceious station wagon on the planet. Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, Sr., and Big Red soda. My ancestors would kick my country girl ass for calling it soda.

Hmm, maybe the story is brewing. It just needs to perk.


  1. I'd read that short story.

  2. Big Red. Mmmmmmmmm'mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. They don't sell that here. =(

  3. You know dear, just about everyday you post a short story on this very blog. And you do it very well, I might add.

    Do you think perhaps you just have some sort of mental block telling you that you "can't" write a short story?

    You really should lay your hands on one of those collections by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow. I, like you, don't care for short stories, but I loved just about every one I read in The Faery Reel collection. Just a thought.

    And of course, I want to read whatever you write ;)

  4. Thanks, Fence!

    Cher, I KNOW!!! It's a travesty of gargantuan proportions! They didn't sell it in NC either. I rarely drink it now (not sure why), but I consumed it regularly when I was but a wee lass.

  5. Heatheroo,
    I'm sure I do have a mental block about it. I'm also unbelievably hard on myself. Never happy with anything I write, but REALLY never happy with my fiction.

    You know, I looked for one of their collections at Hastings this weekend because I know for a fact they used to carry Snow White, Blood Red regularly, but no more! Hmmphf. Gonna have to order it from scamazon I suppose.

    And thank you. I'll send whatever I write directly to you for editing and critique because I know 1) you'd tell me if it sucked 2) you'd be nice about it. :-D


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