In my LinkedIn account a member of our writing group asks the question: Is the short story a viable medium today or should people just write novels?
My Answer: The Short Story is very much alive today. (Now, perhaps, more than ever.)
Not only is it alive but it must continue to thrive. There are far too many writers out there who believe that telling stories is about stretching out a tale. They have learned the greatest tricks for embellishing and creating tangents which don’t add to the story, only extend it. The short story forces you to choose. To chose something, anything, and get to the heart of the matter. Telling the story.
Is the medium for stories harder to fit into? Maybe, but I don’t think so. We are living in an age where the issue is not finding someplace that will take our work, but competing against an entire planet of people who have the capacity to place their work into the arena with yours. A battle-royal of literary significance takes place whenever we write now.
Believe it or not this is a good thing. Pretenders will fall by the wayside, even as books such as Twilight get their moment in the sun, that time will pass. Only writers who stay the course, master the craft and connect with reputable distribution methods (whether that be through self publishing, small press, or the Big Six (er…Five)) opportunity waits around every corner.
There are 300 channels on television waiting to have something to be seen there. Internet television is growing at an exponential rate as well. Thousands of magazines, online and print pop into and out of existence each year, like the quantum foam underlying the universe. Blogs, news services, radio programs, movies, all sit waiting for that vital resource that short story writers have: crazed imagination willing to delve into the darkest corners of human experience to find the light (or more darkness, if that is your thing). We live in an age where, if we do our jobs right, force companies to acknowledge the value of the CREATIVE engine, we could conceivably change our world.
Doubt it? Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Ridley Scott thought so. He based his career of off that very short, very strange story. He and Phillip K. Dick altered the consciousness of a society, asking questions we didn’t know we would ever have. There is a future out there for writers, short stories or novels, but only if we are willing to seize the opportunity before another movie producer or television hack decides we should have another variation on Sleeping Beauty or Hansel and Gretel.
Find your niche and fill it.
Create your world, your view of it, populate it with beauty and dysfunction, reflect the world in all of its glory. Then release them again and again until they blot out the sun.
Make your place in the shade.
Veni, Scribo, Vici (“I came, I wrote, I conquered” from the Latin)
Thaddeus Howze @ Hub City Blues