Here is the latest in the series of Guest Posts from fellow bloggers on the subject of Passion, whether literary or personal, which I’ll be posting regularly on a Thursday. If you would like to contribute, please drop me a line at kasia_oz (at) hotmail (dot) com.
Today, Michael Haynes joins us to discuss his passion for writing short fiction: a passion I have come to share! Michael not only blogs about his dedication to writing every day, but also about his incredibly prolific and varied publications at Michael Haynes – A Writing Blog.
Hope you enjoy Michael’s Passion Post.
Lately, when I’ve been writing up biographies for myself for websites or publications, I’ve been more and more likely to mention that I’m an “ardent” reader and writer of short fiction. And one of the synonyms for “ardent” is “passionate”, so when Kasia asked me to write about something I’m passionate about, short fiction seemed like a natural fit!
There was a time when writers could conceivably make some kind of living from writing, at least primarily, short fiction. Writers for the glossy or “slick” magazines like F. Scott Fitzgerald and O. Henry were able to command per-word rates for their fiction which are rare today for even the most prestigious publications. On the other end of the scale, there was such a large demand for fiction for the pulps relative to the number of writers that people who were prolific enough could earn a good bit of money for the time even at a penny a word.
Those days are, for the most part, gone. There may only be one writer living today (Harlan Ellison) who can say they’ve made a living writing primarily short stories. There’s been a small renaissance in online science fiction and fantasy short fiction markets. There are probably more markets that pay “professional” rates for SF/F now than there have been in quite a while. Even so, it would be quite a challenge to make enough sales per year to even those markets to earn a living.
And yet, I put almost all of my writing and reading time into short fiction. Why is that? It’s because it’s what I love. When I was a youngster in the 1980s, I collected anthologies of short fiction, new and old. And every time I’ve taken up writing, I’ve gravitated toward writing short stories. I enjoy the way that the form encourages writers to strip away unnecessary elements. It also makes it less risky to experiment with different styles and methods of storytelling. A failed experiment for a 2,000 word short story results in much less unfruitful effort than a failed experiment with a novel.
I’ll never get rich writing short fiction. I’ll never get famous for it, either. But it’s what I love to read and what I love to write. Might I try to write and publish novels in the future? Well, I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. But for now, short stories are what I’m passionate about and where I choose to devote my literary energy.