Thursday, December 22, 2011

Novels and Stories

One thing I've discovered about writing novels: it definitely slows down one's ability to write short stories.


But seriously, since I've committed much of the past two years to novel-writing, my short story production has drastically slowed. I've got a bunch of half-finished stories in the hopper, some of which I'll try to complete, others of which are probably best left where they are. But I haven't been able to muster the time to work on them.

It's not just a time thing, either. The novel I'm currently revising is Young Adult fantasy fiction--requiring a very different voice and narrative approach than the experimental, literary short fiction I've been producing lately. So changing gears from the one to the other presents certain problems; it takes a period of decompression of whatever to move from one style and genre to another, radically different kind.

Case in point: I just completed a very short short story (1,700 words or so) titled "Girl Drives into Oncoming Traffic." I'm pleased with it, and I've started to send it out. It was short enough that I could write it in a week and thus not take too much time away from revising the novel. But its language and narrative were SO very different from what I'd been working on, it had a powerful effect on the novel when I returned to it--in the middle of a lovely, straightforward prose passage, I found myself spouting postmodern nihilism. I cleared it up, needless to say, but it was eerie seeing the hold a particular voice gains over you.

Eerie, but also encouraging. Sustaining a narrative voice is one of the hardest things about writing, especially writing longer works. You have to let the voice take control to a certain extent if you're going to keep it strong and consistent. So it was good to see how deeply the voice I'd created had taken on a life of its own.

But now, it's back to the novel. And to another long dry spell for all the other voices clamoring to get out.

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