Short on time, short attention span – short story!

February 29, 2008 at 1:47 pm (Reading, Writing) (, , )

I had a sudden revelation the other day – I’m just not ready to write a novel.  I’ve never written any fiction longer than 5,000 words, I don’t have a lot of free time, and I’m finding the task so daunting that I’m procrastinating like a world champion.  The solution – write short stories!  My brain is buzzing with ideas and it will satiate my (nearly) instant gratification cravings.

I also want to read more short story collections.  I really think it’s an overlooked genre.  I adored Dave Eggers’ collection and Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things is next on my list.  Any other recommendations?



  1. Cliff Burns said,

    To me, George Saunders is the best short story writer these days and I like Aimee Bender’s surreal offerings. Either one of them will teach you a think or two…

  2. WritingMinion said,

    Right, Lorrie Moore is incredible: Self-Help and Birds of America are brilliant collections. Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior is also really good. You could try Sam the Cat (for a male point of view) or anything by Alice Munro. I can lend you my Best American Short Stories 2008 if you want (a US staple). Sorry, most of these are US authors I don’t really know British shorty story writers.

    Sometimes writing a short story is the perfect antidote to that feeling of not being able to ‘finish’ anything!

  3. inkandkeys said,

    Thanks! I’ll definitely follow those up. I read Lorrie Moore’s novel, Anagrams, and loved it, so I’ll try her short stories.

    I can lend you a great anthology of British short stories – it’ll be like cultural exchange.

  4. Alex said,

    I’d suggest Ray Carver, his stuff just blows me away. I’ll bring some on Wednesday.

  5. Alex said,

    oh, and the natural progression from Carver is Chekhov.

  6. Travis Hayden said,

    You should definitely give any George Saunders collection a shot. The same goes for “Best American Short Stories 2008.” Also look at Mavis Gallant. I’ve been a fan of her short stories for a while. Hrm, who else. Raymond Carver’s short stories are wonderful and even Thomas Pynchon’s early short stories (compiled in a book titled “Slow Learner”) are a great great, especially if you are timid to dive into his novels.



  7. inkandkeys said,

    Thanks, guys! So many great possibilities! I also picked up Louis de Bernieres’ Red Dog today.

  8. Mo said,

    I think taking on short stories as well could make a novel less daunting because you can take creative breaks from it. I am sure you have a novel in you – your writing has the perfect tension in my opinion, like your knitting, to carry someone the whole way through a story.

    By the way, <i<don’t read ‘The Secret Keeper’s Daughter’. I picked it up on a whim with a book voucher and found it stodgy if well-made. Like uninspired pudding.

    I also really like Carver short stories.

  9. Mehrangez said,

    Hi Kirsty! just found your blog through your last email and had to comment!

    Neil Gaiman is great. “Harlequin Valentine” “The problem of Susan” and “How to talk to girls at parties” in Fragile Things are all very good – great balance between fantasy weirdness and real-world observations. If you like that, then I’d be happy to lend you Smoke and Mirrors, which has my favourite story by him (“The Price” – very creepy) and also the brilliant “Murder Mysteries”.

    She’s probably not to everybody’s taste but I also really loved Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies.

  10. inkandkeys said,

    Hi Mehrangez! I’m glad that you found me!

    I saw a Jhumpa Lahiri novel at the LBF yesterday; it looked interesting but it wasn’t for taking 😦

    I’m definitely going to give Neil Gaiman a go!

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