When I first started writing short stories it was for a creative writing class. We studied stories from some of the great writers (Alice Munro, William Trevor, Anton Chekov) and we wrote our own. Although I enjoyed the exercise, and I learned a lot about the craft of writing, I didn’t really love the form. In fact, outside the class I rarely read short stories and would never have picked up a collection when I was browsing in the book shop.
I’m not sure what’s changed but I find myself drawn to the short story more and more. There is a revival of sorts going on it seems. Even Amazon has launched a short story imprint in the US called StoryFront.
For the emerging writer it is a great way to feel productive and to get some feedback on your writing. And there are so many outlets to test the waters. There are countless lists and resources for publication of short stories.
This is my competition/journal schedule for the next six months (although I will certainly deviate from it as I hear of new outlets). It goes without saying that you should check the details yourself if you intend to submit to these outlets. Each journal/competition has its own set of submission guidelines which should be adhered to.
I read short story collections much more frequently these days (Kevin Barry, Michèle Roberts, Colin Barrett). And I write short stories because I enjoy the experience. Whereas the process of writing a novel is long and sometimes disheartening, a short story can be written in a few hours (experience has taught me that it then needs about ten rewrites plus breathing space, so really it takes me a month to finish a story).
Publication would be great. Winning first place in a competition would be great. Shortlisted, longlisted, payment, prizes: all would be much appreciated. But, even if I don’t manage to submit to all of these (I am also trying to write a novel after all) it’s good practice to write regularly and to set myself deadlines. And it’s good to experience rejection as well as success.
I recently submitted to a prestigious literary magazine and received a rejection: several paragraphs explaining why the story didn’t work (for that editor). He pointed out something that I couldn’t see because he had the distance from the piece that I had lost. I appreciate his input. I will take another look at this story and submit it elsewhere. It deserves a good home.