Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Short Story for the Editor, Part Seven: The Wrap up.

We've just spent eight weeks on this topic of writing the short story for the editor. I can't guarantee anyone can become a writer, write a short story and get it published in just eight weeks. If I could guarantee that, well, I'd be selling my advice and program to the masses for $19.95.

What I can guarantee is the process. And furthermore, it's a process that anyone, writer or not, can develop. There is only one thing a writer needs to do, and that's to write. Just write.

I remember when I first met Aimee Bender. She was giving a reading of An Invisible Sign of My Own at a boutique bookstore in Northwest Portland. It was the summer of 2000 and I had just read The Girl in the Flammable Skirt. I loved it. Anyhow, during the question/answer after the reading, most people asked what she meant by some image or other. I wanted to hear about her process. She explained she had a specific start and end time to her writing day, everyday. That's discipline, and it shows in her work: it's well developed, well thought through and it's a pleasure to read. Furthermore, she's got three books published and she has a CV list of publications too lengthy to record. In short, she is successful. Should you want to be a published writer and enjoy success like Aimee Bender, write, write, just write, everyday no matter what.

Isn't that the bulk of the process you want to know? I know I said a writer can't always emerge in just eight weeks after reading this series, and it's true. However, a writer who has come through all this should consider themselves armed with tools they need. If it's discipline try this: 2 hours a day working on a short story and do this for eight weeks? Take the weekends off. Write for two hours a day, five days a week and do that for eight weeks: you get eighty hours total.
Remember our lessons on conflict and character and plot and exposition and our methods of publication research.
Next, spend time reading magazines and short stories. Read what I've recommended. Then read other pieces. Keep notes about what you read and where you read it and how it made you think or feel about your own work.
Next, develop your plan for the search for publication. Write a good cover letter.
If you have followed all these steps and you've developed your story then you have a process all your own.
If you don't get on acceptance letter, do not feel disheartened, most writers have miles of rejection before they enjoy a yard of acceptance. It's life. And it ain't so bad.

I hope you've enjoyed this series. I hope you've enjoyed your process. As always good luck and happy writing.

1 comment:

  1. Hurray for short stories. I recently read Best Short Stories of 2010, and enjoyed it immensely. Good luck to your followers- I hope to see one of them in the Best of Short Stories soon! I'm a writer myself, one of those who write because they can't help it, and have to support their writing habit with a job that doesn't have anything to do with writing...