Saturday, 21 February 2015

Babbling about Books (2): Why don't I read more short stories?

I'm going to start University in less than two weeks and let me tell you: I am TERRIFIED. Not just about up with the coursework and making friends. Those aren't the only issues here. How on Earth am I going to fit in my reading time!?! Of course, I'll be doing a lot of reading my papers, but I also like to appreciate books solely for enjoyment's sake.

In retrospect the idea of reading more short stories seems amazingly obvious. After all, they're quicker to read, are a good way to sample authors' writing styles and I could easily access them from places such as in anthologies at the library or published in online magazines.

I can't remember the last time I read a short story. Maybe one written by Neil Gaiman in Fragile Things a few years back?? Which is rather apt as it was a friend pointing out a passage in his latest short story collection Trigger Warning that inspired this post:

"This is my third collection of short fiction and I know just how lucky I am... The wisdom in publishing is that short story collections don't sell. All too often short story collections are viewed as vanity projects or are published by small presses, are not seen as real in the way that novels are real."

I confess, I've never paid for a short story, a short story collection or a short story anthology. Being a savvy student I tend to utilise the library and if I want something that's not there put it on my birthday/Christmas list for my relatives which I may or may not get. The latter has always been novels as there's ALWAYS a trilogy/series for me to catch up on/finish off and debut authors to check out... It's a rather relentless cycle which I need to sort out.

Also, I've never heard anyone in real life get hyped about short stories. For me, books on my never ending TBR pile go up to the top when I hear people gush about them. Internet, I adore the book community, do not get me wrong! I love reading book blogs, watching Book-tubers, interacting with fellow book lovers in the comments etc. I also think it's beautiful experiencing peoples' thoughts and reactions to what they've read first hand.

To go back to the benefits of short stories, Gaiman mentions one I had forgotten about:

"For me, the short stories are the places I get to fly, to experiment, to play. I get to make mistakes and to go on small adventures."

When I get the courage to write creatively, I challenge myself to craft short stories for the same reasons as Gaiman. (Well, that and I have no idea how to write a book...) I don't mind rereading my work when I edit them as it's pure fun. 'Nothing's going to come of it, no one's going to ever read it,' I tell myself. 'It's just a short story!'

But see, that's where I'm wrong. Short stories and short story collections and short story anthologies are still around. In fact, is launching a novella imprint. Fanzines are reinventing themselves as semiprozines to give this story form new avenues.

So short story writers and readers, keep letting me know you're out there.

I'm coming to join you!

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