A Short Story a Day

A short story a day, keeps the creative merde away…

Beginning in earnest next week, I will be committing to read one short story a day, for a year… as my own weird twist to the 365 Day challenge and also as one area of my professional development for 2010’s Year of the Silver Tiger.

Why short stories?

I write them, but I never read them. Despite my best efforts I find anthologies impossible to get through, cover to cover. At night I’m too tired and distracted to want to make the investment to get to know a new character and go on a journey with them. I want to pick up a book where I already have befriend the character and am eager to continue on with the story. It might only be five pages some nights, other nights it could be 20 or 30 pages.

It seems pretty likely that I am not going to stop writing my own short and flash fiction any time in the near future, so I’m adopting the philosophy that you should ‘read in your genre’ (substituting genre with form).

For the past three mornings I’ve taken the ‘story a day’ for a test drive with some pretty amazing results.

Day One (Monday) I grabbed the first anthology my hand fell on, which turned out to be 10 Short s\Stories you Must Read, a promo anthology (not for sale) from the Books Alive 2009 campaign. Our old flat mate scored it last year and it got left behind when he moved out.

I was in a pretty awful mood, if I’m being totally honest Monday morning. It was my son’s fourth day at school and ‘the empty nest syndrome’ was descending on me like grief shroud, sapping my will to do anything and killing my creativity dead in its tracks. Enter left of stage Robert Drewe and his wonderful story View from Mount Warning.

By the time I had finished it was out of my funk, had drunk my pot of tea and was inspired to get in the car, go home and get on with it. It wasn’t the story per se which was the motivator – it was act of shifting my attention away from feeling sorry for myself  and into a creative space which seemed fifteen minutes earlier, was most definitely light years away and perpetually barred from me.  It seemed a pretty strong indicator I was onto something.

After Monday I felt a short story was the perfect way to ‘warm up’ for the day and embarked on my second,  Kathy Lette’s Hate At First Sight and William McInnes’ Life in a Hotel.

While three days is hardly enough time to ascertain if the committment will last – it has given me a window into how it might work. I’m confident of a few things about reading a short story a day:

  1. It is a great way to start the day
  2. It definitely has an easy fit slot into my writing day – simple to start, easy to finish – completed in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea.
  3. It is getting me reading stories I would have missed or have been meaning to and never got around to.
  4. It is getting me reading authors I would never normally come into contact with.
  5. It is giving me a better feel for the form and structure of work which is published.
  6. It has me wearing all my hats at once; reader, writer and editor in a way where they can all hang out together as equals.
  7. It has me thinking and writing criticially about what I am reading.
  8. It is cementing my love of the the short story.

I’m going to continue on for the next 11 days and imagine it will be a seamless transition into the ‘officia’l story a day for a year on the 14th.  Care to join me?

Image via One More Chapter.

#73 Photo Challenge

Ok – for something different. Because there were so many things I wanted to take a photo of today, here is a combined effort.  All of these things have links to writing and moi – yes even the bread!

Your challenge is to tell me how they are linked? Two are really obvious and the other two are more difficult. Good luck.

#72 Cherries

They say that a four leaf clover is lucky – what about three cherries together? I had old friends over from lunch today and Lily found this wonderful cluster of cherries in the bag. Photo is a bit fuzzy because asking a five year old to hold still, is like – well asking the sun not to rise in the morning.

#70 Didn’t We Have a Lovely Time

… the day we went to Byron.

This is us at the Eastern most tip of Australia having just seen dolphins (two pods) down below. Excellent day. Schoolies provided the soundtrack while the kids were in the park and we got to get our “mummy bodies” out among all the waif thin girls. Photo compliments of Dylan.

Best sight: a 60 years old woman with two twenty year old blokes lounging with her. WAsn’t quite sure what all of that was about – but she looked like a queen and was loving every moment. I’m aspiring to this when I am 60!

#69 Cruel Summer

It was the quarterly kindy working bee this morning and our turn to show up. November is not the best time to show up for a working bee.  When I set off from home just before 8:00am it was already 30 degrees and very humid. My first job was washing chairs with one of the other Mums. I’m sure this will figure in a story at some time in the future.

The killer for me, wasn’t so much the sun nor the humidity (though I was suffering from a mild case of heat stroke this afternoon) it was the fact before I left home, I’d been watching the Fourth Fiction video and I had the song in the background of the Connect Four section. The riff was immediately obvious but it had taken me a while to work out what is was, beyond the fact it was on the 1985 Comes Alive vinyl (housed at my Mum’s place these days). As I walked out the door I realised it was Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” and it went over and over in my head as a scrubbed and housed. Cruel Summer indeed (even though is was technically still Spring!)

#68 Validation

I have officially won!! I crossed the word with 57, 178 words. There are 4,000 other words I didn’t include so unofficially 61,00o-ish words, but it doesn’t really matter too much once you’ve got the 50,000.

Granted this is technically not a photograph – but I’m unable to take screen shot on my computer. For some reason it wont work so I wasn’t able to capture the moment were I got the “Big Win” up on the screen. So instead the official picture from the NaNosite.

Later on in the week I will give the breakdown of my word count.