Monday, March 06, 2006

Could Short Stories Be the Way Back to Novel Writing?

My last post was about my fiction writing, well, about my not writing. About how when anything really bad happened it threw me off and I had such a time finding my way back. It felt like I was alone, the only person who was that way. I felt like maybe that meant I wasn’t willing to try hard enough, or I didn’t have enough love for writing to stick it out through the hard times.

Today I was reading some articles in my latest copy of Writer’s Digest Magazine and found an interview in there done with author Alice Hoffman. (I loved her book Practical Magic. The movie was great too.)

Anyway, in this interview she mentions going through some bad times in her life, when it seemed a lot of things were going wrong, and how during that time she found she didn’t have the energy to work on a novel. Instead of trying to tackle a novel, she took what energy and time she did have and worked on short stories. When she wrote, she didn’t allow herself to go back and second-guess the words, she just put down what came and kept going.

When I read this it was like someone opened a door for me. Right now I feel like there’s no way I can even work on my novel. It seems like trying to climb a mountain when someone has tied my legs together and hooked on a hundred pound boulder just for good measure. The thought of writing a short story at this point, still feels a little like standing at the bottom of a mountain, looking up, squinting into the sun, knowing I have a long way to climb. But…at least it doesn’t feel like my legs are tied or that I’m dragging a boulder with me. It just seems much more doable at this point and place in my life.

Alice Hoffman used short stories to find her way back, to build a bridge to her longer novels. I don’t see why I can’t do the same thing.

An idea popped into my head right away. That’s a good sign. (Smile) I think I’m going to write short stories with main characters that are minor characters in my novels. That way I’ll get twice the bang for the same work. Writing these short stories will help flex my writing muscles, help me find my way back into the comfort those novels once offered. At the same time, using minor, but important, characters from my novels, especially the main one I was working on before the hurricane, will help me stay in contact with that novel, help me flesh out some of the characters even more, and maybe add some extra pull toward that bigger story for me.

Maybe it would work for any of you who find yourself in the same writing blocked mode. It’s at least worth a try.


Steph Dawe said...

I'm doing something similar: when I get stuck with my novel-in-progress, I futz around with some fanfiction challenges, and sometimes I find myself full of ideas for Lydianton while I'm writing stuff for House or CSI fanfics.

Thanks for your advice on your other website, by the way! I'm having a horrible time getting myself organised to get published...

Charlotte Dillon said...

I've heard that a lot of people like to write fan fiction. It's fun writing for them. I think fun is the key word. (Smile)

Thanks for the thanks. I'm glad you found the site helpful.

Best of luck with your writing!