Monday, September 27, 2010

Novelists aren't the only writers

Image by Ape Lad some rights reserved
I suppose a lot of us dream of writing a book, and some of us actually do it, but I've noticed the assumption around the blogosphere that all writers are novelists and we're not. All novelists are writers, I'll grant you that, but it's possible to be a published fiction writer without ever writing a novel. For example, Simon Kewin is heavily into writing excellent short fiction and getting it published, although I have to admit that he's written a novel as well.

I suppose I just want to be less invisible as someone who is an amateur writer but one who'd like to get a story or two published one day. Of course, it might help if I finished a few stories first!

Having said all that, there's Nanowrimo coming up and I intend to join in. Not because I see myself as a novelist but for the buzz of the challenge, the forums and the meetups. You can meet some awfully nice people during Nano you know!

I wonder what your writing means to you.


Simon Kewin said...


Wow, that's me you're talking about! It's very good of you to describe my short fiction like that.

I do like writing the short stuff. As well as anything else it is, as you say, a good way to start getting things out there. I look forward to some of yours seeing the light of day soon. That "one day" could be today. Why not?

Best of luck with Nano - I'm sure it'll be a lot of fun. Although hard work fun!

Old Kitty said...

Awwww those who write are writers. Those who write stories long and short are story teller writers! :-)Ignore the silly assumption that just because your story ain't 130,000 words long and counting doesn't in any way lessen your writer label if you have a 6 worded story.

GOOD LUCK with the nanowrimo challenge!!! How exciting!!

Take care

Sylvia said...

Writing short stories is, in my opinion, a very different skill than writing novels. I have read that if you are just starting out, you should work on a novel not a short story because they are easier (more room to play with, less focus on getting it exactly right). It seems to me the short story market is slowly becoming healthier again - or at least I hope so! It seems like there's more paying markets online than there were a few years ago and definitely a glut of competitions. I'm glad.

fairyhedgehog said...

Simon, yes, I love your short stories! Thanks for the good wishes for Nano!

Kitty, it's true, it's all writing. And thanks for your nano wishes too!

sylvia, I'd not heard that about novels. I struggle with longer fiction because I naturally write short not long - and the CFS doesn't help me focus on long projects! But maybe nano will give me the chance to play around a bit.

Whirlochre said...

Sylvia is right about the expansion of the short story market (including flash and voice-based flash) but I'm not so sure novels are easier than short stories to polish off.

I think Natalie of the Whipple summed things up nicely in one of her recent tweets (which grew into a fully fledged post over on her blog):

I write for myself, so the story has life. I edit for others, so the life shines through.

I think that's peach, whether you're writing fiction, poerty or the shopping list.

fairyhedgehog said...

Whirl, I saw that on Natalie's site. She keeps on coming up with good stuff!

I really am mostly looking at short stuff - I just don't have the stamina for a real novel. (Nano definitely doesn't count!)

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I write for a living, but it's for the corporate world -- mainly craft and little heart. But having honed the craft gives me opportunity to concentrate honing the heart in my creative stuff.

Still, craft and skill are different beasts. Sylvia is quite right about short stories and novels taking different skills to produce. And I shall go to my grave agreeing that just because you can write a novel does not mean you can write a good query letter. Or, ahem, vice versa.

I would go so far to say that non-fiction writers are, well, writers, too. And yet on the sites I gravitate to, I rarely see a NF query letter or opening chapter or much about NF writing at all. Yet NF books quite outsell fiction.

Short stories are definitely coming back into fashion -- partly, I think, because of the ease of accessing a single story now. A reader doesn't have to wait for a magazine or an anthology to publish to find a story or two. Like listeners can easily download a single song, readers can find a single short story to savor. And the e-revolution means novellas are coming back into favor, too, since they can be offered out on their own and no longer have to be packaged.

There are still short story markets that pay well, too. I was lucky in that my stories were pub'd in a time when it was easier to get pro rates -- and even royalties -- for genre fiction. Nowadays, things are tougher. But that disparity does not make anyone less of a writer!

jjdebenedictis said...

Oi, given how much I've written this month, I am not a writer.

But I am a writer. So you're a writer too. Nyah! :)

Anonymous said...

You made such a great point! Sometimes people forget to stop and consider all the different forums there are in which to write.

Ms Scarlet said...

Now that I'm trying to write something longer I'm learning the different skills needed between the long and the short. They are completely different outfits... and I miss my skimpy shorts.

fairyhedgehog said...

Phoenix, I admit I hadn't thought about non-fiction writing. Of course non-fiction writers are writers too and it's a very different sort of writing. I've had to write reports in the past and I find it easier than thinking something up from scratch.

I'm glad short stories are coming back into fashion because they're more what I can do.

jj, we're both writers then, although currently not writing.

Kelly, blog posts being one of the writing outlets!

Scarlett, I'm sure everyone will miss your skimpy shorts!

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