During my time in my MFA program, I wrote 23 stories. Of those, I’d say that around 17 were turned in for some sort of class assignment. And even the ones that I didn’t turn in for class were oftentimes written with possible submission to the workshop in mind.
But since completing my last workshop story (back in April), I’ve had zero desire to write short stories.
In part, that’s simply because of my sense that I already have tooooo many short stories, since, out of those 23 stories, I think I’ve revised only perhaps 7? And maybe only 4 of the ones that actually went through workshop.
I have a big document box that is full of workshop comments that I need to address (which is part of my plan for upcoming month).
Before, I never understood why authors would start writing novels and then stop producing short stories. But I get it now. Novel projects are huge. For me, I generally get the idea and think about it for months. Then I do some reading about it. Then I start hacking away at it. Oftentimes, I write thousands upon thousands of words in a day. Sometimes, at least for me, novel writing involves locking myself away and not talking to anyone for a few weeks.
This is all very different from short stories, which are smaller and often involve much more rewriting. They don’t require as much commitment, so, perversely, it’s harder to make time for them. It’s like how you find the time to go to your job every single day, even though it’s a huge time commitment, but you find it impossible to make the time to get a haircut.
However, I’ve just started work on a new short story! A science-fiction story! However, I have a suspicion that it’s one of those sci-fi stories that sci-fi magazines won’t want, since it’s a very quiet story: it’s about a near-future world where they’ve developed the ability to detect, by brain-scan, whether you’re or not you are ‘in love’ with another person. I’m pretty excited about it, even though some of the elements–physical setting, in particular–haven’t quite fallen into place.
And one of the things that most excites me about it is that I know it’s not going to go through workshop.
Workshop is great. It taught me a lot. And when I listened to it, my workshop stories often really benefited from the comments (Both my upcoming Clarkesworld story, ‘Seeking boarders…’, and my BCS story, “The Days That Papa Takes Us To War” were revised drastically after going through workshop). But it also kind of killed my interest in the stories that went through workshop. And I’m looking forward to once again being able to just finish a story and send it out.