Novel vs. Shorts

I've been mulling over this for a while: novel or short stories? It actually is not that difficult to decide. I'll write anything, whether it's a long-form fiction or short. But my first love is novel. I like to take my time to develop characters and give them room to breathe and wreck havoc in their worlds. I like to weave multiple subplots together and build the tension until a big climax at the end. I like to give the readers a chance to take it slow and savor the words.

At the same time, as a writer, I crave the instant gratification of short stories. A complete story in fewer than 5000 words. For someone with a short attention span like me, it's perfect.

The problem is that I really would like to finish the first draft of my second novel, which I've been writing since 2004. It's time to finish that baby. And yet I've had all these wonderful ideas for short stories and I simply can't wait to write them, and they're all so short. In the past year, I've started on twelve stories and finished eight, submitted four and had two accepted for publication. I wanted to refocus on my novel, but these damn shorts keep coming at me, begging to be written. Just this week, I finished another 5000-word story and I was quite pleased with it.

But what about the damn novel?


ORION said…
The short stories I have written I eventually have incorporated into my other novels -- some have even been expanded to novel length works.
I find when I am drawn to other projects it means I am trying to procrastinate and not finish my WIP. I try not to give in to it. When I am done with the first draft I give myself permission to do other things...
Kanani said…
Oh, you've just answered yourself.
Yes, finish that novel. Pretend you're back at UCLA and you're in the horse race to get it done. Start at page one, rewrite, and do it. Try covering 40 pages a week.

Go, ray, Go!
Btw.....I'll read your book when I'm finished with joan silber's "Household Words" and Don DeLillo's "The Body Artist."

But I am taking it onto campus tonite to show them what an alum has done.

Gay said…
I let myself play with shorts one day a week (two if I've been good), but only for a few hours. One of the days, it's "flash", the other day, I'll write serious shorts... but ONLY if I've been hard at work on my NIP. Why?

Because it keeps my writing fresh and fun, and gives me something to look forward to! My NIP is work. It's a marathon effort. The shorts are fun. Little brain-teasers, immediate gratification, proof that I CAN finish something. I need the shorts to keep my momentum going, but they're like fast food--not good for a steady diet.
Ray Wong said…
I know. And I am procrastinating. And you're right, short stories to me are like those delicious little chicken nuggets. They're so tasty, so quick, and so satisfying some times, but I can't eat them all the time. They make me fat.

I need to finish that damn book. I think my problem is that there's no guarantee of a "reward," or even a penalty. When I set a goal to finish something, there's usually some kind of tangible reward or penalty at the end. I know, finishing to book is a reward, and not getting published is the penalty... but you know what I mean...

There's no contract at the end, no big advance check waiting for me. No book parties. No signings. In fact, there's just more work waiting at the other end: rewrites, edits, queries, submissions, rejections... and that's probably why I am procrastinating. More work, but no reward. I need a reward system for myself to motivate myself, or some kind of tangible penalty/deadline -- do it or die.

What can a professional procrastinator do?

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