I’m in the midst of editing and putting together some of my short stories. My novella is in competition stasis and while I thought I had time to enter it in a slightly later competition for novellas I was wrong. So, because of submission overlap and the fact this second competition is accepting novellas but also collections, I’ve thrown together a bunch of stories.
Just backdating this to my new year’s writing resolutions.
When I say thrown together. I’m being flippant. Yes, it’s a late-ish decision (made in December), but it’s a deliberate process.
What it is, is a good exercise, preparing a collection. It’s about seeing stories as a jigsaw and putting them together to make sense. Not all my stories will fit and they don’t all have to. This competition wants no more than 40,000 words. As I’m going, I won’t submit more than 30,000.
What I’ve found is I’ve written stories of varying length, from 500 words to about 3,000 – so there’s nothing special about word count. Then I write across genres, including literary, horror and speculative and even more experimental fiction – again nothing to indicate ‘this’ collection is all ‘that’. However, it seems there are thematic commonalities and other characteristics running through enough stories to turn them into a coherent anthology.
Turns out my stories are about the individual and communication and sometimes whether the individual even exists. There’s other themes I won’t elaborate on, and thing’s I’m discovering about them too, which helped me find the title, which in turn is dictating the categories they fall into, which are coalescing into three sections or chapters. I’m cautiously optimistic about this. It looks as though there is an inner consistency possessing enough difference (I hope) to make it look like this was always going to be a compilation. (Of course I planned it this way, ahem, over the years I’ve been writing these stories).
I don’t have any advice, except to say if you have a bunch of stuff lying around your hard drive, they are probably worth have a look at to see if collectively they can form a thing. For, me, if nothing else, I’ve learnt more about what comes through in my writing and when lining these stories up, have seen from a new perspective the themes I’m interested in and how they’re expressed across time (each story written at a different point) and through genre. Here’s hoping others will see something in them too.