The Short Challenge

Boxer briefs

CC 2008 Luis2402

A few weeks back, I announced my plans to offer a new short story monthly and to release a quarterly magazine called Winter’s Quarterly. All the while doing this, I’m writing novellas leading into the SF novel and writing short stories to send to science fiction markets, all under the name I refer to here as “Dick.” I’ve also been asked to revise Holland Bay and need to plan its follow-up. A lot of work on top of a day job and college, right?

Already, I devote my early mornings to writing original material. Get 500 words written, and I’m off to work. But Winter’s Quarterly and the page Get Into Jim’s Shorts will need material, too. So I issued myself a challenge.

Last time I sketched out potential shorts to write, I came up with three potential crime stories for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The challenge? Start one story each weekend and finish the first draft in that weekend. When those three are written, come up with three more stories. And so on. And so on.

Part of this will be to come up with original material for the first few Winter’s Quarterly. The stories, including “Trick or Treat” that was finished this past weekend, are timed for the season, so I’d rather they be held back until next fall when they’ll be more timely. So the first Winter’s Quarterly in January will be have mostly new material never before published.

There’s another component to this. As I do more and more around writing, I have to be able to keep up the pace of creating new material. It’s a frequent complaint among writers I know that it’s hard to move on after the first draft of a novel is finished. “What do I do next?” they complain. One publishing maven whom I was friendly with for several years said she would come down with some sort of bug every time she finished. Plus, I’m being two writers: Jim and Dick, who will have his coming out very soon. So I need to be in a mode where I can shift gears from short to long work, from crime to science fiction, from Jim to Dick. The challenge of writing every weekend will make this easier to manage. If I stockpile enough stories, I can devote more time to long work without worrying about an empty pipeline.

Perfect? Nothing is perfect. Anyone who says there’s a perfect way is lying or in for a shock.

Mind you, it took me a long time to reach this point. Just as writing a novel is a learned skill, so is writing a high amount of material and writing it well. That second part of equation is very important. Because you don’t shoot for quality, there’s no point to quantity.