Wednesday, August 5, 2020

IWSG - Stumbling Into Short Stories

Hey, hey, hey, this week it's ACTUALLY time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.


Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG allows writers to express their insecurities and support each other. Anyone is welcome to join. Simply click on Alex's name and put your blog on the linky list. Then post the first Wednesday of each month and hop around to visit others.

Our exalted co-hosts this month are 

Susan Baury Rouchard, Nancy Gideon, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Hawes, Chemist Ken, and Chrys Fey!

The optional question this month asks: Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

Well, when I started out trying to be a professional writer, I first tried writing a couple novels. One I only researched (I'm probably on a watchlist because of it). It was back when the Hantavirus hit the news. It started on a reservation, and I had an idea for a mystery story in the Tony Hillerman-type style that involved the government releasing a test virus on the reservation. Considering the government's past, it wouldn't have been the first time they tested something on a minority population. I spent months researching government testing and biological warfare. Astoundingly, I found out how to make anthrax from one of the library books. I have no idea idea which book now, and I don't remember anything other than that it was shockingly easy to get what was needed.

Tony Hillerman ended up putting out a book that seemed to have a similar premise. I was upset, figured I'd never get a book published if he'd beat me to the punch (I was about 20), and I got a new job where I was working 9am to 2am all but one day per week, in which another manager opened and I closed. Zero days off, discouraged, overworked, exhausted, I gave up on the story. 

I started another book, but it felt more like a thriller short story to me, so I eventually hopped back into short stories, because I just didn't have time to do anything else. Two rejections (one from Aasimov's and one from Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, both via mail, both of which I still have!), and I set that all aside until years later as a new mom. I made money as a stay at home mom in writing a monetized blog on being the mom of a child conceived via IVF (2005) and eventually writing articles for an online periodical (2006) (and being a guide on ChaCha and kgb--I suck at not working). But I started slowly, but surely writing short stories and learning how to submit them, all while I also worked on another novel.

I thought being a novelist was the only way to break in, but then my short stories started selling. Then I started being invited to speak and to teach. Writing organizations and the library started treating me like a real author before I felt like one.

Short version: I created my career by accidentally happening into a different form than the one I thought was required to make it in the writing world!

On the flip side, I've had short stories end up clearly needing to be novels, and I'm working on two of those now. We'll see what happens there.

That turned out longer than I intended, so I'll save the rest of my post for next week (if I remember what I was going to say.)


If you missed my post last week, I had a new story come out that is FREE to read, plus I was interviewed, and one of my stories was read on a podcast, also free to listen to! Here's that post if you want the links: Horroraddicts, Dust Bunnies, & Novel Noctule.


Submission stat time! Each month I report the previous month's submission stats to keep myself accountable.

July

9 submissions

1 acceptance (YAY!!)

1 rejection

12 stories currently on submission

6 stories pending resubmission

Pikes Peak Writers continues with free online programming this month, so if you haven't been able to drop in, you're still welcome! We're likely looking at doing this for at least the rest of 2020. Write Brains are a two hour workshop, Writer's Night is for writing discussions (you can throw out a topic/question for all to discuss or just hang out and take part in the discussion), and Write Drunk, Edit Sober is a series of mini lessons with prompt writing between each lesson. There's also a free conference being put on this fall by three writing groups working together: Pikes Peak Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Northern Colorado Writers. Anyone can take part, all for completely free. Go the Pikes Peak Writers website for more information.


What's your answer to the IWSG question? What are your insecurities? How are you doing right now? Have you submitted anything? 

May you find your Muse!



42 comments:

  1. That's awesome how you started writing short stories and got them published. Hope your longer projects work well for you too.

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  2. That's some serious hours to work. Glad you now have time to write and found that groove with short stories.

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    1. I hope to never put in those kind of hours again!

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  3. Why am I not surprised that you've always been hardworking and creative in the ways you deal with it? Your posts on short stories are the main reason I've actually written a few!

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    1. That's so cool to hear! I hope you have fun when you write them.

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  4. I'm a huge Hillerman fan. I think you fulfilled your promise by blogging, Shannon. Your short stories got published, and now you're an important part of this community. Congratulations.

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  5. OMGosh, your 'watchlist' comment made me crack up! I often think the same thing. If someone got a hold of my browser history... LOL

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    1. They probably have a folder for writers, but they have to figure it out: writer or psycho?

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  6. That job where you worked 9am to 2am made me cringe. How did you survive that?

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    1. That was the worst job ever! I was hardly home, worked every holiday, rarely ate. That time is all a blur.

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  7. If the short stories are selling then you need to keep writing them.

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  8. Accidentally happening into something is amazing!

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    1. Isn't it? It's nice to know there are different ways to find success, too.

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  9. Some writers are more in tune with shorter forms than others. Nothing wrong with that. Anton Chekhov never wrote a novel, but he became a classic nonetheless. Maybe that's your road, in the footsteps of Chekhov.

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  10. Isn't it interesting how much of what we wind up doing is accidental. Glad you stumbled on what works for you.

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    1. Thank goodness there are so many different paths out there.

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  11. Keep doing what works for you! We all find our natural writing strengths eventually, even if a certain form or genre isn't what we thought would be our calling.

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  12. Hi Shannon - you've certainly been pressing the typing fingers and have achieved lots - interesting how your work evolved: makes sense though. We do find our way through ... stumbling is a good word. Take care - and write on - Hilary

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    1. We all have to find our own paths. It's fascinating how it happens.

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  13. Thanks Shannon for these insights into your writing career. Short stories are a wonderful means to get out there as a writer and earn enough recognition and confidence to pursue a novel publication. Good luck for your future endeavours.
    Happy IWSG August blog hop.

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  14. Thanks for sharing your story about how you came to write short stories instead of novels and congrats on your interview. Very generous offerings of free online learning.

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    1. I hope some folks can join the free online programming. It's so fun to be able to offer it more widely now.

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  15. Don't some stories kind of dictate their own length?
    And, my son in hs almost got into trouble as he researched the atomic bombs used on Japan for a history class and stumbled into the Anarchist's Handbook. The only thing that 'saved' him was laziness as he down loaded it and then never looked at it again. 'What a world, what a world.'

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    1. It's amazing how easy it is to find some things. And yes, I've definitely found that stories tend to dictate their own length.

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  16. It's very cool to hear your history.

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  17. Lol. That about sums up my writing life too. Starts and stops and changes and work getting in the way. I don't even have time to blog anymore. But I don't totally quit, never know what the next unexpected change can bring.

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    1. I think the fact that you don't quit means you're meant to be a writer.

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  18. Good luck with your longer works. I find it harder to write short. Also found out I can do it. You've found what works for you and that's half the battle.

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    1. It's interesting that some people find longer easier and some find shorter easier. Fascinating how the mind works.

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  19. Good work with the submissions, and congrats on the acceptance! Double congrats on finding out that your form really does work :)

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  20. Of late, I like to read short stories, than a big fat novel. (and to think that I read Roots once upon a time)

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    1. I used to read tomes, too, but it takes me longer to finish a book at this time in my life, so short stories can be a nice reprieve.

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  21. Congratulations on the acceptance.

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