Even as I was nearing the end of the novel, working on the final chapters, I began to turn my mind toward what my next project would be. Sometimes I know well before I finish my current work-in-progress what I want to do next, but this time I was at a bit of a loss.
Not because of a lack of ideas. I have many ideas for novels and novellas, but there’s no one idea that has stepped forward from the pack and infected me with a sense of urgency that it is the one above all others that must be written.
Once BEFORE HE WAKES was done, I started to realize why that was. I was looking for the next long project, a novel or novella, but that wasn’t where my imagination was leading me. Instead, it was crying out for short stories.
I’ve always been a writer (and reader, for that matter) who has enjoyed short stories. In fact, they are my greatest passion as a storyteller. I enjoy working on larger canvases, but nothing brings me more pleasure than short fiction. There was a time in my life where I wrote almost nothing but short fiction.
However, in recent years I’ve focused more and more on longer works. I don’t regret that, it’s important to stretch as an artist and I’m proud of the novels and novellas I’ve produced, but the fact is my short story output has suffered. I’ve worked them in here and there, but they’ve not been my focus in a long time.
So before I move on to another novel or novella, I’ve decided the time has come to block off a substantial amount of time to just work on short fiction. I have so many ideas that have built up over the last couple of years that I’ll never want for material.
Now that I’ve actually made that decision, I am absurdly excited. In a weird way, it feels like returning to my roots, rediscovering my first love. Short fiction won’t just be something I try to fit in between longer projects, but short fiction will BE the project.
So I’m thinking that from now until the end of the year, my focus will be exclusively on short stories. I’ve already written an odd narrative poem called “I Molded a Man of Dirt and Clay” and am working on a strange tragic romance called “The Tooth.” I have so many more lining up in my mind, demanding attention. “Redman,” “If Wishes Were Horses,” “Stealing Wishes,” “Around the Loop,” “Favored,” “Dead Baby Blues,” “Pink Applesauce”…just a few of the titles I’m looking forward to getting down on paper.
I will file away the novel and novella ideas I have and their time will come, but that time is not now. Now is the time for short stories.