The Brave Writer
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The Brave Writer

What it’s like being a Short Story Writer in a Novel World

A pursuit once discouraging has now become lucrative.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The Planting of a Seed

At what age was it you decided to be a writer? It oft comes young, in a rush of excitement prompted by the thrill of another writer’s words, ideas, story. A seed plants deep: inspiration to someday do the same — be that inspire a child, or meet a kindred writer.

My ever-wavering love (and hate) relationship with writing came from a public-school trip to the library. An author talked to us about her life, writing process, and mild success. I was in awe. She was everything I imagined growing up to be.

Unfortunately, as with most children raised to digest literature deemed worthy of critical study and rarely strayed, I grew up thinking only some forms of writing “counted”. The author that sparked my interest in the career wrote novels, so surely, I had to as well… Right?

Splitting the Worth of Literary Genres.

Short story writers and poets alike are isolated by the classical literature bubble that still holds the education system hostage. Poets are thrown Shakespeare and told that the highest form of poetics is found in rhyme and meter (not to mention they are expected to conform to the dictionary which Shakespeare certainly did not).

His heart fracted and corroborate.

- Shakespeare. Henry V, Act 2, Scene 1

Short Story writers are given works like The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and told how powerful the writing is because of the time it was written, and the personality behind it.

It felt intimidating and not worth my time pursuing writing in a genre that already had its “Best of” slots taken. Aspiring short-form writers were made to feel there was only one way to make a name in the modern market — and it wasn’t ours.

Solution or Compromise?

So, what was the solution? Novels, of course. Novels continue to stay relevant to reader demographics. Novel readers are willing above all others to invest more into reading (because novels are long and come in series, aka: multiple purchases) and therefor are more willing to invest in the authors.

My teachers sprinkled in novels written within the last few years as a means to keep children engaged. Long-form text needed a hook to stay hip and relevant, whereas writers inclined towards short stories did not get that courtesy.

The analytical text given to students about short writing they were expected to study are often longer than the piece itself.

I thought the only way I could grow up and be a successful writer was to write and *traditionally* publish a novel.

Does any of this feel familiar to your experiences?

You may be a writer like myself, inclined to a genre outside classic English studies, that never gave yourself a chance.

Don’t Give Up!

This article is not to woe or bitterly reminisce over opportunities not presented, it’s a call to action. Have you felt downtrodden by your literary education; discouraged by a market unfit for your voice?

You shouldn’t be! I will absolutely not stand for it. This literary era is the one in which we were born to shine.

As technology changes and social media shifts, we short-form writers are poised to grow exponentially more relevant.

Just as insta-poetry hit a boom in popularity over recent years, so too have writing sites that cater to short quality content.

There’s a niche for everything, we just have to find it. If you are looking for places to post short stories and poetry, look no further! Medium’s fiction demographic is steadily growing, and ready to house all your brilliant anecdotes.

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Slaidey Valheim

A writer of brutally honest non-fiction and gritty short stories. Posts every Monday and Wednesday! Support/follow her @ https://linktr.ee/SlaideyV