The power of the short

I thought I was finished with short stories.

Back in my uni days, short stories were my thing. I read them, I wrote them, I had a few published.

More recently, as readers would know, I’ve been focused on writing novels. It’s still my goal to have a full length novel published by a major publishing house, and I continue to work on various manuscripts.

However, I’ve also ducked back into short stories, and I’m so glad I did.

My story Pay Day is in the latest edition of Westerly, a literary magazine produced at the Westerly Centre at the University of Western Australia. And my short story Holden is shortlisted for the Furphy Literary Award.

I’m grateful that I followed the advice of writer Anna Downes.

In an episode of The First Time Podcast (one of my favourite writing podcasts), Anna shared the ups and downs of a writer’s life. She mentioned the rejections her writing had received, and how she was determined to succeed and keep learning about the writing craft. So, Anna wrote short stories and entered competitions.

I thought that sounded like a great idea. And here’s a few reasons why:

Faster results. The lifecycle of short story being accepted, edited, and published is far shorter than the consideration cycle for a full length manuscript. You can receive feedback sooner – and that can be quite instructive and positive for a writer who may not receive feedback very often (if at all).

Satisfaction and confirmation. When your short story is accepted for publication, it’s a great source of encouragement. It can help an author stop wondering: Am I mad? Am kidding myself, with this writing lark? Maybe my writing is terrible …

Gets your name out there. If your story is published, that’s another chance for people to read your work and remember your name – short story fans, but also the writing industry.

Builds a record. If you’re keen on applying for a writer’s fellowship or residency for example, having a list of published stories could help prove your writing credentials. It showcases your writing and also your dedication.

Builds discipline. This is particularly the case with story competitions with deadlines, and magazine submission periods with deadlines. You’re provided with word counts and due dates. Sometimes, you’ve provided with themes. Writing can feel amorphous, open-ended and never-ending at the same time. For many people, having a strict deadline can help get the engine started.

I’m working on several stories at the moment, and the opportunities for submissions feel endless. I rely on terrific organisations like Writers SA to keep me updated with opportunities, and also the writing portal Submittable, with its global focus.

Wish me luck!

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