So my 365 days of story seeds is pretty much a bust.
I gave up on it when things got really busy back during the end of January. Unlike the other 365 day projects I still want to do, I found I wasn’t really getting much out of it.
I had hoped that writing a sentence or two in response to daily prompts would give me story seeds that would spark something bigger. But after three weeks of doing it, it had become a tedious task I kept forgetting to do until the last minute.
Which was a good enough reason to drop it. There are already enough tedious tasks in the world that I have to do, why add more to the tedious task load in my life, right?
But I am still very much enamoured of the idea of story seeds and what they can lead to. And as is often the case with me, one thought leads to another and yet another and now I’m contemplating this:
Yes, there are actually people doing this challenge. There is even a Facebook page called “Ray Bradbury’s 52 week short story challenge to aspiring writers”.
And there are tips out there on how to accomplish such a challenge. 12 Secrets to Being a Super-Prolific Short-Story Writer, for instance. And author Jay Lake talks about his story a week experiment here. “Eventually, it just became a habit”, Lake says in the interview.
It’s a crazy idea for me, though. So I’m not going to do it.
At least, probably not.
I just have to get my mind to let go of the idea now.
When I was in my early twenties, I read a lot of short stories, but then somewhere between then and now, I fell out of the habit.
Last year, I picked up Neil Gaiman’s short story collection, Smoke and Mirrors, and remembered how much pleasure a well-crafted short story can bring to me as a reader. I decided back then that I wanted to read more short stories (yes, it was about a year ago – I procrastinate quite well).
Fast forward to now. Since that time last year, I have, rather unconsciously, been collecting short story collections and anthologies. Last week, I took a look around at my bookshelves, both physical and digital, and realized I’d amassed quite the collection.
I also realized something else. I don’t reach for a book of short stories the way I reach for a novel. With a novel, I get these squiggly bookish feelings of anticipation and when these come, I naturally reach for whichever novel it is, and start reading.
This doesn’t happen with short stories. Have you noticed how short story collections are often great big thick books? I find they make me feel a little wary.
But I still have this desire to start reading more short stories.
So I decided, if the idea of a big collection of short stories is off-putting, why not have some fun with things instead?
Fun, as in surprising myself with a different short story every day!
Here is my Short Story box:
I made up a list in my Bullet Journal, giving each short story collection or anthology a letter. Then I cut up a bunch of paper from the paper recycling box. I began going through each of the books, jotting down the title of the short story (and the page number, for print books) on a small slip of paper, which I then tossed into my Short Story box.
My plan is to pick a short story from the box every day. No more resistance to those thick short story anthologies. No more trying to decide what genre I want to read. It will always be a surprise!
If this works out, I’ll simply keep adding more books to my collection, and more short story titles to my Short Story box. If this doesn’t work out, well, I’ve been having a great time writing down titles, and marvelling at how imaginative some of them are are.
Here are the short story collections/anthologies I’ve gone through so far (I have many more, plus ones I’ve saved to Pocket from various places like the New Yorker magazine):
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Haruki Murakami)
M is for Magic (Neil Gaiman)
Come Along with Me (Shirley Jackson)
Fragile Things (Neil Gaiman)
Others still to be added include short story collections from Flannery O’Connor and Ray Bradbury, as well as a lot more anthologies in the mystery, horror, thriller, science fiction and fantasy genres. I’m going for an eclectic mix, and will be keeping my eye out for new anthologies to add to my collection.
It feels like a lot of fun to me, and if I can stick with a short story a day, by this time next year I will have read 365 short stories! I like the sound of that.
Do you like to read short stories? If yes, do you have a collection/anthology that you would highly recommend? A favourite short story author?
I’ve officially come out of my heavy deadline season – finished off the last big one early last week and have spent most of the time since recuperating, resting … and reading!
As soon as I could, I started on The Shining, for the #shineon readalong on Twitter this month. But it’s been a while since I’ve had a nice long stretch of reading time, so I found myself very distracted by all the other books that have been waiting for me to read them.
I put The Shining down at page 80 when Diana Wynne Jones’ Reflections on the Magic of Writing came through for me at the library. I devoured Reflections over the course of two days, and it truly inspired me. With huge thanks to Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, who recommended a little iPhone app called eHighlighter, I ended up saving lots and lots of quotes from the book – not quite the same as covering it with highlights, but still very satisfying.
Reflections is on my to-buy list, the next time I go on a book-buying splurge. And in the meantime, I plan to devote a post to it sometime soon, helped along by all the quotes I saved while I was reading.
I moved straight from Reflections to Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, by Sam Weller. I enjoyed this book immensely, too. You get a very real taste of Ray Bradbury the person: quirky, opinionated, loving. What came through the most for me was Bradbury’s immense love and appreciation of LIFE, in capitals.
On the fiction side of things, I’m about a third of the way through The Demi-Monde, by Rod Rees; I’m part of the book tour for the sequel, The Shadow Wars, and I wanted to get up-to-speed with the Demi-Monde world by reading the first book in the series before I start on The Shadow Wars.
I also started The Red Box, by Rex Stout, one of the few Nero Wolfe mysteries I haven’t read yet. I adore Nero Wolfe and Archie, so it was a thrill to see this one at my library’s ebook lending site. I really enjoy the Nero Wolfe novels in audio, but unfortunately this one hasn’t made it to Audible yet.
In audio, I’ve been listening to Dead Anyway by Chris Knopf, a really fun thriller of a revenge novel. I’m near the end, and had a tough time turning my iPod off last night, but it was sooooo late.
And I have lots more waiting for me, including:
Pursuing the Times, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. I read a sample of this romcom before deciding to review it, and it was delightfully funny.
The Memory of Blood, by Christopher Fowler. Bryant and May, of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, are one of the funniest duos in crime literature, and I’m really looking forward to this one.
In other readalong news, I’ll be reading A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle with Joanna of Create Your World. If you’d like to join us, let me know in the comments or zip me an email. I’m also eagerly awaiting the announcement of the Diana Wynne Jones book for the readalong Kristen of We Be Reading will be holding for her month-long event, DWJ March.
So that’s my reading news so far. And I’m finding myself wishing for even more time to read!