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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Short (Very Short) Fiction

Had lunch with Pops today. He asked me if I was working on any new writing. I told him that I am trying to focus on an idea for a novel. I shared some of the different ideas I have been toying with, and expressed my opinion that if I want to be a career writer that at some point I know I have to write something long form.

Pops' response surprised me. Instead of being supportive about the idea of turning my writing efforts towards a novel, he seemed to think I should put my creative time into exploring new writing mediums. He talked about writing webisodes (his description of which sounded eerily like blog entries). He rambled on about the changing consumption of written materials in the world of new media, dropping terms like "text-messaging" and "podcasting" as if those were ways that even he had been consuming media. It's as if he imagines the future of writing to be nothing but an endless series of flash fiction pieces texted regularly to your phone.

I could imagine a similar conversation happening way back in literary days of yore when some crusty old editor had to explain to Charles Dickens that readers no longer wanted to wait a few months for the next installment of a story to appear in the newspaper, and instead they wanted the full story in one volume. (Try telling that to the writers of Lost).

I'm not sure what motivated this speech, but if an old lover of all things literary is telling me to abandon the game, let me tell you, I'm a little bit scared. Funny enough, in this case, I prefer to think that Pops just doesn't think I have a novel in me.

The best the rest of us writers can do is to keep supporting each other and our industry by buying books.

4 comments:

Andi said...

I've been having conversations like you one you mention here quite often lately. Disheartening for sure, but I'll keep plugging along with the crusty old novel and short stories for the moment. Although making money writing short stuff on the side sounds kind of appealing. Call me a sellout! lol

Stephanie said...

I don't believe in the whole notion of selling out. The world turns on the dollar these days, and no one's offering patronage so that we can devote our lives to writing. You just have to scrape it together however you know how, and if that means writing blurbs for teeny magazines or gossip rags, I say do it.

So, how can I get paid for writing the text message version of Gossip Girl?

Justin said...

I think you can write a novel Steph. While I think that the written word will continue to expand in new and different ways with things like stories to your phone, the Kindle, and so on, there will always be a place (a big place) for the printed word and the novel.

Nev said...

Your dad brings up an interesting point. As someone who has written in both newspapers and trade magazines both before and during their downfall -- and have since transformed into the online realm as a result -- I see a lot of similarities with your current situation. People are getting their information or "novel" entertainment in different forms today. It's not necessarily a bad thing; it's just the latest movement in a series of movements that have occurred over time. I'm not saying abandon your goals of writing a traditional novel or being the world's premier short-story writer. But looking into a way to combine the two -- your love for tradition with the latest mediums of today -- may be worth exploring.