All of last year, I was finding short story writing to be very difficult. I’d go through so many drafts and discard so many ideas before I found something that was at all worth pursuing. And then even when that was done, I’d eventually sort of start to lose interest. I didn’t consciously intend this, but the upshot was that from February until basically the end of August, I didn’t write any short stories. However, now I am back on the short story wagon. I’ve written three in the last few weeks and I’ll probably finish another tomorrow.
The secret is that they’ve all been super bizarre (and perhaps not even recognizably what someone would call a short story). Not sure what this augurs for the future of my short story writing. To a certain extent, I feel really reprogrammed by Mrs Dalloway. After reading that novel, I just feel like I need to write stories that are a bit less artificial and have a bit more reality. This has nothing to do with the divide between realism and speculative fiction, because (to my mind) most realist work is incredibly artificial. Raymond Carver’s world is not the real world. It is a very Carvery world with its own very Carvery rules.
Of course, what I end up producing will be just as fantastic as anyone’s stuff, but at least it’ll be a fantasy that is, in some way, more satisfying to me.