All the craft books tell you to put away your work for a few weeks, a month or two is even better, before you edit. So what about a few years? That's gotta give you a fresh perspective right?
That's for damn sure.
I am in a bit of waiting period, also known as writer-limbo... wimbo (might have just made that up) - I have been waiting for edits on my novel to come back from someone I hired back in early Sept. While I wait, I decided to revisit my short fiction days. There was a time, a number of years actually, when all I wrote was short fiction. I did things a bit backward by writing a novel first (and then re-writing that novel a lot), before I tried my hand at short stories.
Short fiction taught me a lot about writing. And they are a much different beast than novels – much more than their length defines them. Some of my favorite writers only write short fiction, George Saunders, Raymond Carver, and Alice Munro (who I should really read more of). The writer, Tobias Wolff, once described the feeling he got while reading Carver's Cathedral. He said that by the end of the story, he felt like he was levitating. I've never forgot that. And it remains one of my favorite stories.
Also need to mention Richard Ford here - as I say in this Smokelong Quarterly interview, I was pretty obsessed with Rock Springs. Communist may rank as my all-time favorite short fiction. And I can't even say why. It is just so damn good.
So returning to the form is both delightful and sobering. The sobering part is when I read a story that I laboured over, sent out, received a number of rejections, and constantly rewrote, and I realize... hey, this is as boring as shit. No wonder they turned it down. Ah, the wisdom the years bring.
The delightful is coming across a story and still loving it. A few tweaks here and there, some new ways of putting things, maybe a slight structural change... but yeah, not bad. Let's send that sucker out!
Getting pubbed these days is harder than ever. And like the world-weary private dick, I've seen it all, taken my share of beatings, and poured three fingers of bourbon to ease the 10th, 20th, 50th rejection. But I'm back at it. Writing. Learning. Submitting. Rolling with the rejections.
I'll let you know how it all shakes out.
If you'd like to take a gander at a couple of my short stories visit:
or pick up