In my youth (yes, I’m 29, but you know what I mean), I only read novels or novellas, never short stories. I am convinced that this is mainly due to the culture I grew up in. In western countries, attention spans of readers are shorter so they need shorter stories. Reading is a hobby, it should be fun. In my country, reading is a life style. Acquiring stacks of books in one’s living room may not be the norm anymore (it certainly was in the time of my grandparents) but we still take books seriosuly. Very seriously. Too seriously, to be honest. I’ve been given novels to read since the day I could read. Yes, I learned to read from comic books (about two years before we officially learned letters in grammar school) but I switched very quickly to 100-page books (for a five-year-old, those were novels; I think it took me two weeks to get through one; I usually read more than one at the same time.) It wasn’t long until I was reading the classics: Jack London, Jules Verne, Karl May (maybe I was 10 before I delved into the Vinetou monster), basically everything that I found translated to my native tongue.
To me, reading a story should be about becoming a part of that world, getting to know the setting and characters intimately, spending a considerable part of their (and my) life with them. When I finally got my hands on a short story collection, things were different. Yes, they were interesting characters. Yes, they usually involved intriguing situations. But before I could truly immerse myself into that world, the story would be over. Starting a new story, I had to discard everything I have learned about the world and had to start from an empty board. That particular detail was incredibly irritating.
All this leads back to my writing. I find it more fulfilling to write a short story than to read one but still I always find myself checking the word or page count when I do it. I’m paranoid about my short story evolving into a novel if I let my guard down. That’s not the writing I like. It sounds too much like a school project where you had to write a specific number of words to make a cognitive statement. The biggest essay of my high school had to be between 4k and 5k words. To most people, that is pure torture. I barely got warmed up at that point.
I tried (and still do) to write short stories because I’m an adult now and time has become a different thing. But, to be blunt, I suck at it. The only reason I try writing short stories is because it’s finished quicker, editted quicker and can be read quicker. The one short story I finished turned into a novella (Clockworks Warrior) but now I know it’s only a part of a greater story I am obliged to write some day.
Don’t expect short stories and flash fiction from me because you won’t get it. What you will get from me is epic novel series which unfortunately take time. LOTS of it. Speaking of which, it’s time to get back to that particular activity. Ta ta.