Saturday, 3 January 2015

A Short Story Writer's List of Heady New Year's Resolutions

1. Enter short story competitions - going by the premise that if you don't enter 'em, you can't win 'em, consult Paul McVeigh's fantastic blog or Tania Hershman's brilliant Shortstops, and keep abreast of latest deadlines
2. DON'T enter short story competitions with a story that deep down inside you know is not suited to the review, the judge or the theme. It's a waste of money, no?
3. DON'T ever expect to win a short story competition. Not many people do. And DON'T be disappointed when you don't.
4. Submit to reviews everywhere. Just put on your secretary hat and do it. Remember that piece that was rejected eight times and is now coming out in an anthology?
5. DON'T tailor your story to a word count.
6. DON'T begin a story until it is ready to spew out of you, and until you can in some way convince yourself that it is worth the trouble of being written down. Don't talk about your story until you are through with it. Feel it, live it, breathe it, protect it. Don't drink or go out or abandon your idea until you have served its creation.
7. If you don't feel your ideas are strong enough, get off your writers' bum and back out into the world. Talk to people, or better, listen to their stories, their voices. Watch their eyes and hands.
8. Read more. Read all those damned books you ordered. Read classics. Read philosophy. Feel stupid, feel enlightened.
9. If you meet a short story writer, order their book. Blog about it. Support your kind.
10. Go to as many author events as possible. Remain starry-eyed when the big authors talk. They are your rock stars.
11. Remember you are little. But remember, Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks within, awakens (Carl Jung)
12. Understand what your true goal is, in all of this. Work towards it daily.
13. Remember you are a craftsman. Your tool is the DEL cursor. Kill off your darlings.
14. In your bleakest moments, speak to a writer mate. Their week has probably been just as crummy as yours.
15. Every so often, congratulate yourself on coming this far. Then hide the vodka bottle.
16. Jog or swim every two days.
17. Keep your best and purest energy for your work. Be selfish.
18. Trust the meanderings of your brain. Take measured leaps.
19. Appreciate the wonder of those around you.
20. Never give advice or follow a scrap of it.

Good luck to all short story writers in 2015 and may you dig deep into life's bucket of ideas.