Back in January, I threw out a challenge to my Quillian colleagues: write 15k words of new short fiction by the end of June. It could break down any way at all–one 15k story, three 5k stories, fifteen 1k flash stories–any combination was acceptable. The only stipulation was that they had to be new words (revising old stories would not count) and it had to be short fiction (not work on novel-length projects).
I came up with this challenge for a couple of reasons. Although we hear a lot about the “death” of short fiction, I think there’s a lot of life in the form yet. Newer writers can finish short stories much more easily and quickly than long projects, which in turn provides something to edit, workshop, and get feedback on. Short stories provide a great introduction to one’s writing and can be offered freely on websites or sold as .99 ebooks as promotional material.
Still, a lot of writers feel they aren’t doing “real” work unless they’re writing novels. Perhaps this is in part that some writers don’t particularly care to read short stories, either. For myself, I really enjoy short fiction, so maybe I’m just partial to it.
At any rate, I threw out the challenge. I think the first to reach the mark was fellow Quillian Chuck Heintzelman who, unknown to me, had already set himself a short fiction writing goal for the year: 50 new short stories. Whoa. I was blown away by the audacity of that goal, secretly struggling as I was with the question of how many new short stories I should challenge myself to write in the year–3, or 5? I felt suitably dismayed, and secretly promised myself to write 5, although that is strictly off the record, you hear? So far I’ve finished one and have three others in various stages of completion. But I still have six months!
Ahem. So anyway, Chuck hit the 15k in short order (and is still writing, of course; you can find a lot of his stories on his website. And you should!) I’ve been trundling along, and yesterday, I hit the goal! Which is good, because, you know, it would have been pretty sad if I’d been the one to throw out the challenge and then proceeded to fail.
I’ll be polling other members of the group at the next couple of meetings to see how they’re doing, and encourage them along to the finish line. At the end of June, I’ll post links for the other challenge-meeters here.
Photo: me. It’s the magnetic poetry on the side of my fridge. And I think the ‘beautiful spine’ poem is by my daughter.