Sunday, March 11, 2012

Short, Middle, Long, Queries...

Over the winter I've been up to a lot of different things.

I've really got back into short stories in the last year or so. Haven't read this many shorts since I was a teenager, and it's a great way to discover new writers who push my buttons. I even had pretty good feedback on my first attempt - especially from Christopher Grant, both in public and by email, and he should know what he's talking about. Suitably encouraged, there may be a few more on the way.

I've also started a couple of novellas. Both of them are kinda stuck right now, but I'm sure I'll get back to them once I've worked them through my brain a few times. For now, they're set aside but I'm really excited about some of the novellas receiving e-publication these days. The length suits the format, and vice-versa. Definitely a growing market, I think. The likes of Ray Banks, Nigel Bird, and Allan Guthrie, just from the UK, are starting to explore the real strengths of 15-30k words. Novels seem to have become overinflated in the last 50 years or so. Sometimes less is more, people, less is more.

Still, since I was about 17 my real love affair has been with the novel. And, in all honesty, I would describe myself as a novelist (unsuccessful) before I called myself a writer (unsuccessful). Because in all the years that I didn't write but knew one day I would, I knew I would write novels. Not shorts, not journalism, no reviews or biographies or poetry (although I've dabbled). It was always novels or nothing. To me, they are the supreme form of writing, one of the truly great inventions of mankind, to put up there with fire, the wheel, and Withnail & I.

So, I've dusted off my last completed first draft - and it has been lying fallow for some time now. The first draft is what I love to create more than anything. But the first couple of edits come close second, especially when it's been sitting on the shelf for long enough, and feels fresh and new. And suddenly I feel like a real novelist (unsuccessful) again. Brew up some coffee, add a good splash of bad whisky, here we go.

At the same time I'm sending queries for my latest completed novel. And I REALLY REALLY HATE sending query letters, so working on a fresh novel is both motivation and reward.


  1. I understand the feeling, being buried in drafts and not having anything concrete to show people. So you get defensive because you don't want to be THAT guy who talks about writing all the time, but never has anything out.

    The workaround I found for that is to allow myself to work on short stories one day a week. I try and write 1K words a day (at least), but one day a week, I let go of the novel or novella I'm writing and work on a short story. Keeps my name around, keeps me happy and satisfied to finish and send out stuff. The process of publishing is often brutal, but it's not as bad if you keep soaking in it.

    Hope this helps,


  2. Thanks Ben. I could certainly use more organisation to my schedule, and that's a good idea. I usually just get by on momentum. So long as I feel good about what I'm writing then I'm productive. I feel good about the book, but I'm not looking forward to the process of getting it out there.