Beyond the excitement of putting together a really professional product in just a few weeks...
Beyond the satisfaction of mastering the craft of the short story in another tautly written tale that speeds along with the impact of a runaway commuter train...
Here is the real reason I love writing short stories.
My 17th book is done. Sent to agent in New York. I sit back, awaiting the inevitable comments, rounds of edits, during which I will alternately cry, fume and laugh hysterically.
Then off to the publisher it goes. After which there will be more edits, more crying, fuming, and possibly, more drinking. (Okay, that's a cert.)
Which is why I love writing short stories.
I've been a novelist for over 15 years now. My 16th book came out this February (yes, possibly the worst timing in the history of the human race, with the possible exception of the invasion of England by William the Conqueror, but I digress.)
So I've had two traditional publishers and three series, but believe it or not, I got my start writing short stories. In fact, I have over 50 of those published, and 24 of those were in print before I even gave a thought to write a crime novel.
Why do I love writing short stories so much? Short stories come with less stress than a novel because...
Short stories are all mine.
In order to get a novel contract with a medium to big house, you really have to keep the audience in mind. Sure, you write what you want to write, but with the publisher's audience always in mind. Then your agent gets hold of it, and makes comments and suggestions. Next, your house editor will be asking for changes to the manuscript, and possibly even to the story to make it most appealing to their audience.
All good. All with the purpose of increasing sales, which I'm sure it does. All tedious as hell.
Yesterday, I sent my 17th book to my agent. She really liked the first 30 pages sent months ago. I probably won't sleep until I hear she likes the next 200.
If she does, it's a sparkling vino moment. If the publisher does too, then break out the Bolly. (I do love Ab Fab, by the way. Just call me Eddie.)
But then the fun starts. I have to wait for the inevitable tinkering.
I can see now that one of the great joys of writing a short story is there is no interference. It's MY story, just the way I want to tell it. I've been published in AHMM, Star Magazine, ComputorEdge, Canadian Living Magazine, Flash Fiction, and others, and no editors have ever suggested substantial changes to the stories they've published by me, or even requested minor changes.
Writing a short story is a more independent project than writing a novel. I love that.
But back to the title (and it's not about the money): I have actually made more per word with some short stories, than I have with some novels. Mind you, if I'm making a dollar per word for short stories, that would translate to $80,000 per novel, and I don't reach that with every book.
So although we say you can't make a living writing short stories anymore, it is possible to make some Bolly money. Usually hobbies cost you money. This is one that allows you to make some!
I've always said that when my novel career wanes, I will continue to write short stories with gusto.
It's true what they say: you never forget your first love.
Melodie Campbell has won the Derringer, the Arthur Ellis and eight more awards. She didn't even steal them, which will be explained if you look up her wacky Goddaughter books...