Starting as a comment, this thought grew too long, and I decided to turn it into a short blog.
Mark Rushing commented on the last post, expressing that he’d never much cared for the short story form, where he used to think that it was lazy writing, too wordy for poetry and not digging the way novel writing does. And he’d continued this thinking until reading a short story that I wrote and passed along called Dreamland Crocotta after which he reconsidered his entire standpoint.
First of all, Mark, what a compliment! Thank you very much for that.
Otherwise, I agree, I think there is a prejudice against the short story with many. I’m not sure why the short story is losing popularity rapidly of late either. It’s a question that I don’t think will appear for its final time here. You’d think with our shorter attention spans the short story would be huge, entertaining in small doses, but it’s not. It may be because television shows are easier to watch, considered easier to engage with, but I’m not sure that reading in general is declining as quickly as the short story – so who knows?
There is a sincere history of true brilliance in the short story form. As I’ve said in my last blog, it’s a study of a moment or instance, a situation. More than an image or series of images in a poem, but short of the character and societal study of a novel or novella, the short falls in between. I didn’t realize how much fun and how exciting it can be to write and read short stories until college. I began my writing career with a novel in high school and worked hard on that for years. It wasn’t until my freshman creative writing course that I was really introduced to the writing of it, and now, engaged, writing novels and shorts alike, I’m playing catch up as quickly as I can, a stack of anthologies and collections waiting to be read on my shelves. (Likely this will be my traveling reading – something tells me short excursions into easy, quick stories will be nicer with the rapid changes in traveling abroad. And if you must know, those collections are likely Stephen King’s Just After Sunset, Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things, and the two I’m probably most excited about, Peter Straub’s study on the evolution of the horror story in his two volume collection of American Fantastic Tales).
Advice: Give short stories a chance. Theres a very real, very true brilliance within. I’m saddened that it has taken me so long to discover them myself. They’re fast, they’ll keep your attention, and they’ll leave you as satisfied as much on television. So dig up a collection or grab one of the few literary mags on the rack at your local bookstore – trust me, it’s worth it!