Friday, August 12, 2011
Short Stories vs. Novels
“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.”
For me, writing short stories is very fulfilling. But as a mom of two little duendes and a wife of a wonderful taotaomona, I have small slices of time and focus for writing at any given time—typically late at night when the house is quiet. I can visualize a storyline, start to finish easy, but slapping down creative words to help the story flow is difficult.
So, since self-publishing my first collection of 13 short stories* and having two others in Storyboard 11, I am now focused on my romantic comedy novel. I have a trustworthy team of Beta Readers (explained in my previous blog entry). The manuscript is in its second incarnation. I wrote the first draft in about four weeks, three hours a night like a mad-woman. And, like many novice writers, I thought it was print ready. After several initial readers and a very expensive writer’s conference at SDSU, and a handful of rejection letters from agents (yes, I went that far); I learned otherwise. I met a great agent, NT, who liked my “hook”. She said, Guam/Chamorros had never been a focal point of a novel, so I was excited to get to redrafting. That was January of 2010. I am recommitted to submitting three chapters to agent NT before the end of the year, but only if the manuscript is ready.
Short stories are nice, neat packages that hold a lot of meaning, metaphor, emotion. It’s like telling a short knock, knock joke. Poetry is great one-liners. Some say that poetry is much harder to craft than short stories or novels and I believe it. I’m wordy. I’ve tried my hand at poetry and it’s tough. Spurts of success, so I’ll stick to reading great poetry.
So, moving to a novel with about 250 pages or 80,000 words, I feel like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice character, David (Jay Baruchel is sexy to me by the way) trying to wield my powers to shape sentences, choose the right words and drive my story forward. At times, I send a blast of power that amazes me (this is very seldom) and other times I spurt small fart-like bursts of power that probably won’t see the light of day (this is very often).
My toddler daughter is beyond daily naps, so there goes a one hour window to write; she won’t be in preschool either until fall of next year. My son doesn’t start school for three weeks, so his full attention is on me, mostly telling me how bored he is if he isn’t playing a video game. I can’t leave my kids in front of the television just so I can write, and I don’t send them off to childcare to be alone, so this is my dilemma. A mild one, yes, so my manuscript is in a long gestational period. Still growing, still thriving, just longer than usual, much like a baby elephant, no?
Well, I’m hiding in the kitchen while my children play so I can write, something, anything aside from fun Facebook posts. Blogging keeps me sane, helps me vent. So, with this written, I know I’ll be reviewing several pages of my manuscript today. Wish me focus!
*Attitude 13: A Daughter of Guam’s Collection of Short Stories (Authorhouse, 2010)