Thursday, August 4, 2016

Perils of the Writer: The Length that Fits Your Story

So, I'm primarily a novelist.  That's the length of stories I write on the whole, that's the length that feels right in what I conceive a story to be.  I'm not a big fan of writing short stories, in that I rarely have a short story idea, and I do have so many long-form ideas, so I feel like trying to conceive short stories for the sake of "short story" in and of itself is wasting my time.
Note: I'm not saying short stories are a waste of time.  I'm saying me trying to force myself into a short story box out of the idea it's something I "should" do is a waste of time.  Everyone's mileage varies.  I have plenty of friends who are short story masters, and novels make them want to tear their hair out.
That said, having just come off the ArmadilloCon workshop, I feel like the teaching-writing environment, from the large workshops to smaller ones to critique groups-- tends to be shorter-work focused.  This makes sense-- a teacher will have an easier time reading and critiquing something that's 5000 words as opposed to 100,000 words.
The challenge then is this: there are very few resources out there, especially for the genre writer, to learn how to novel.  At best, people are taught how to short story, and then told, "You know, do that, but longer" and thrown out into the woods. I know in the workshop this year, most of the students described "novel writing" as an intended goal, but most of them came in with a short story (as opposed to chapter one of a novel, which was allowed but somewhat discouraged).  If we ("we" as a genre-writing community as a whole) are going to engage in teaching writing, we need to create more resources for the novel-writing student. 
I have some ideas of how to do this, but they need time to ferment.  That, and I have plenty of other work to do right now as well.