Many an aspiring author — and professional, too — has asked me over the past year why I write short stories. Or, at the very least, why I choose to. Naturally, it’s a field you won’t get rich from. Matter of fact, if you happen to be one in that ten-thousand median author range to be on the lookout for, chances are you probably won’t even break the $5000 mark per year from all sources “writing-related”. If you write novel-length genre works, major houses will usually yield print runs of 3000 copies. Everybody wants a piece of the pie; the only thing is, there is no pie. There are so many micro-presses these days that anybody can become a writer. In most cases, this has screwed up the marketplace; I blame this slow literary death on technological globalization.
So what do we do to assure ourselves a cut and immortality? We annex and fan-club the profession. This isn’t a terrible thing, but it’s all we’ve got right now until we come up with a better game plan, right? At the same time, I also believe we shouldn’t write for the masses because you never know what might work or what might not.
October 1927 Copy of Short Stories Magazine
The writing game is the extra income game, but it’s also the poor man’s game. Which brings me back to my original topic: why short stories? Hey, why not? Life is short, and you should get your voice heard no matter what the venue. That’s my philosophy. But rather than tell you what motivates me to write short stories, why I prefer it over the long form (not to say there isn’t anything in the works; that’s for another day), and why I still persist at it… Well, I decided to search the Internet for like-minded individuals. People who prefer to write short stories, too.
The first is Bev Vincent (author of The Road to the Dark Tower). Every once in a while I do find a little gem of a post over at Storyteller’s Unplugged. Bev is always astute and charming in his posts, and with this particular blog entry, he practically took the words right out of my mouth. Because these are my very same thoughts. Along with that, I’ve provided a few other links on why it really doesn’t matter, why sometimes it does, and on how what I mentioned above is so true… Life being short, so just submit…
WHY WRITE SHORT STORIES by Bev Vincent (Storyteller’s Unplugged):
HOW MUCH DOES WRITING PAY by Nut (The Writer’s Coin):
MY WIFE IS RUINING MY DREAMS by Chris Cope (Life Files):
Also, the last time I did a post of this nature I forgot to stress the importance of an editorial filter, and I didn’t focus enough on non-fiction writing. My last rant was geared more toward genre, and I apologize for that. However, in the same fashion, I’d rather you read “How” and “Why” I do it (and what’s to be had from it), from the likes of others, rather than myself. And in their own words.
HOW TO WRITE FOR MAGAZINES by Jason Arnopp (Bloggery Pokery)
SMALL PRESS MAGAZINES: SHOULD YOU BOTHER? by Bruce Boston
(Sam’s Dot Publishing/Writing World.Com)
THE AMATEUR vs. PROFESSIONAL MYTHOS
FREELANCE PROFESSIONAL WRITERS HATE AMATEUR WRITERS by Lance Winslow
HOW WRITERS CAN BENEFIT FROM THE SHORT STORY MARKET by Paul Turner
WHAT MAKES A WRITER A PROFESSIONAL by Bruce Byfield
INTERNET SMACKDOWN: THE AMATEUR VS. THE PROFESSIONAL by Tony Long
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and submit that story. As the professionals mentioned in the links above, these are the same exact reasons “Why” and “How” I do it. And always remember, just because you’re not getting a piece of the pie, doesn’t mean you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.
Lawrence R. Dagstine