I’m not a novelist!

Today, having just ripped out my fourth sock attempt in as many months, feeling utterly dejected and incapable of following a simple pattern, I am likely prone to dramatic statements of either-or.

I obviously can only knit rectangles!

Staring at eight months of working on a novel and having pretty much nothing to show for it, with one short story publication coming out this year, I obviously can only write short stories.

Here’s the thing: I adore writing short stories. Does that make me lazy as a writer? Does it make me lack the dreaded D word? Am I undisciplined?

Does it matter? Isn’t it about rediscovering the joy and learning what works for me?

I’ve written book length stories. I haven’t written a novel in years, but I have done it. Which means, I know I can. But I prefer writing short- to novella-length works. Why can’t I just do that? Why must I introduce value judgments? Why can’t the value judgment be about the work itself instead of something so meaningless as length?

Yesterday I started on a story that’s to be in the follow-up to The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales, and I’m excited all over again. I’ve got a short story coming out later this year in an anthology. My stuff isn’t crap. I can do this. I can.

Which is frustrating, because I still want to write the books I’ve got in my head. I just want to write these other things more. Some people argue that novels might be easier for me when I don’t have so much vying for my time. There may be something to that. I dunno.

Writing is what matters. Everything else is just details. Who’s with me?


8 thoughts on “I’m not a novelist!

    1. Jolene Post author

      Thanks for the link!

      Mostly, I need to stop deciding how it’s gonna go and let the story tell itself. Which is part of the task of this blog and blogging about it — to look at what I’m doing, why it works or isn’t working, and adapt accordingly.

  1. Dani

    I’m with you! Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte was a phenomenal collection. I really liked that all the stories shared the same world because it gave me the consistent feel of a novel or a series instead of bouncing around like a lot of short story collections. Maybe you could even approach the novels in your head that way. Maybe they aren’t meant to be one long story, but rather many little ones that build upon each other and over time tell the whole story? Maybe. But ultimately I say do whatever makes you happy and keeps you writing because you are an awesome writer. And I want more Spencer’s Butte stories….

    1. Jolene Post author

      I really liked writing it that way, a la Newford 😉 Angela’s novels feel that way in my head — they build upon each other and make the world rich and layered — but it’s possible that even her lengths are wrong, in my mind for what they’re actually supposed to be.

      More Spencer’s Butte stories are coming . . . . I promise. 🙂

      1. Soli

        Heh, speaking of Newford, and as I am planning to delve back into that world myself, got any author suggestions for stories like that? I’m reading Nina Kiriki Hoffman again (and I suspect you would LOVE her novels) but it’s not enough to fill that need I feel.

        Also, I still have not picked up your collection.

      2. Jolene Post author

        I think my collection might scratch that itch, if I do say so myself. I’m not sure I can think of any Newford-y-feeling stories that you wouldn’t have already read? Most of them are older, rather than newer. If you haven’t read Solstice Wood you need to fix that. Have you read Windling’s <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Wood-Wife-Terri-Windling/dp/0765302934/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346504488&sr=1-1&keywords=the+wood+wifeThe Wood Wife? C.E. Murphy’s Walker Papers aren’t *quite* Newford-y, but they’re worth checking out, if for no other reason than Gary. (Go. Read. You’ll see.) I’ve read Nina Kiriki Hoffman — she’s even local! — but I forget about her stuff. I’ve only read the one book of hers, thus far. Need to fix that!

      3. Soli

        (silly limited replies on comments)

        I have read The Wood Wife and did read the first few of the Walker Papers, but what I remember of those don’t quite fit the mold I wish right now. As it is I have NKH’s latest collection of fiction, along with the best of CDL and FINALLY my own copy of The Onion Girl.
        So many books so little time!

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