Will I Ever Finish My Novel?

May 23, 2010

- See all 763 of my articles

For the last year, I have been spending a fair amount of time writing fiction.  Every Friday, with very few exceptions, there has been a brand new short story.  There have been occasional bonus stories on other days, and even holiday specials like Friends for Thanksgiving.

Most of these stories are less than a thousand words.  Every few months, I have had the goal of writing a 10,000 word longer story to be included in the short story collections that I sell in the Hyrax Publications store.

The longer stories have a dual purpose.  First of all, they provide exclusive content for the purchasers of the short story collections.  Purchasing the eBooks is the only way you can obtain these stories.  The main goal, however, is to get me into the habit of stretching my ideas into longer stories in preparation for my novel.

Several months ago, I began work on a novel focusing on the exploits of a serial killer.  I sketched out a synopsis of the story, and quickly got 6000 words written.  At that point, life got much busier.  Unfortunately, I haven’t written a single word in the novel in months.  In fact, I have struggled even to write the 10,000 word stories.

I expect to be able to begin making progress on the novel again, as the kids settle into a more predictable bedtime routine.  However, at age 35, I seem to be getting a bit of a late start.  What if I never finish my novel?

Throughout most of my entire writing career (dating back to elementary school), I have considered the novel to be the highest art form.  All other forms of writing – shorter fiction, poetry, and non-fiction –  were of considerably less interest to me.  In the words of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, I wanted to be a paperback writer.

I still do want to finish my novel.  However, over the course of the last year, my opinion of short stories has changed considerably.  When I began writing short stories, the main goal was to refine my writing style and experiment with various techniques – all in an effort to improve the writing in my eventual novel.

At some point along the way, the stories stopped being stepping stones toward a future goal and became writings that I was proud of.  Is it possible that I’ll never become a novelist, and will instead spend my time churning out hundreds of short stories?    The one downside is financial – as mentioned in my guide to short story writing, publishers don’t pay very much for the stories.  However, there’s a certain feeling of accomplishment in writing an interesting, yet compact story.  At times, I can hammer out a short story in 20 minutes (which, given my typing speed, is very near the theoretical minimum time).  Others have taken an hour or more.  Interestingly, there’s not a strong correlation between the time taken the write the story and the quality of the story.  Some of the more popular stories have been written during an episode of The Office.

Leave a Reply