May, Short Story Month, is almost over.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in my blog about my love for the short story and my personal aesthetic that constantly leads me that direction. I asked for some ideas from readers about favorite short story writers and got some great advice (thank you!). L. Marie (my great friend who writes YA Fantasy) mentioned Flannery O’Connor, Poe (I’m reading him right now in my Romantics class), and the Grimms (and not the guy on the TV show). Cathy Day directed me to a post on her blog titled “Toolbox Stories” where she rounds up a terrific list of the stories she has in her writing toolbox.
We all should have such a toolbox–those go-to stories that just do it for us. Maybe they inspire. Maybe they give us a new way to handle our plot line. Or maybe, as Cathy uses them, a specific story will help a writing student understand how to make his or her own story work better.
I’m working on my toolbox.
Some of my favorites? Ernest Hemingway (“Hills Like White Elephants”), Guy de Maupassant (“The String” is included in the anthology noted here, but my favorite will always be “The Necklace”), James Joyce (“Eveline”), William Falkner (“A Rose for Emily”), John Updike (“A&P”), John Steinbeck (“The Chrysanthemums”), and indeed Tobias Wolff’s amazing “Bullet in the Brain” . . . all included in On Writing Short Stories (Tom Bailey, editor).
So as a roundup this week, I want to also thank The Missouri Review lit magazine which, this past month, has celebrated Short Story Month by writing a daily blog post about their favorite short stories. (If you want to start at May 1 and work your way through the posts, start here.) I’m intrigued by Angela Carter (Day 5), T. Corahessen Boyle (Day 9), Alice Munro (Day 22), and, of course, James Baldwin (Day 23).
There is so much to read, so much to learn. Some of my other favorite literary magazines have great short stories and essays that deserve further attention.
I’ll do my best to bring my favorites to you, some interviews, and even some advice as I learn as well. I’m working on filling my toolbox.
Short story month may be over, but my work is just beginning. I have a lot of learning–and writing–to do.
What about you? How’s your writing coming this summer?
6 thoughts on ““May” I Say Good-bye to Short Story Month?”
Excellent post. I feel like I’m just beginning to explore the short story just as short story month ends! Thanks for the links to The Missouri Review. I’d like to read some of those stories.
As for my writing, I’ve begun the sequel to my first novel. I’m at that difficult getting-to-know you stage of writing that is so uncomfortable and exhilirating at the same time.
Can’t wait to read it!
My writing is just beginning this summer. I look forward to a few weeks of relative solitude during which I can shift from “mom mode” to “writer mode.”
Can’t wait to see you at the workshop!
I’ve never been able to write a short story because every time I get an idea for one, it gets too big. With that in mind, I decided to use May to expand my limited short story library in hopes of getting a better grasp on the structure. I’m not sure if it’s working yet, but I hope to know soon.
By the way, I’m happy you mentioned “The Chrysanthemums.” Though I had already read it, I read it again hoping to like it more the second time around. I love Steinbeck and was really upset that I didn’t enjoy it so much the first time; I’m pleased to report that I did enjoy it more this time.
The thing I always struggle with during summer is trying to focus on one project at a time. I always feel like I have so much time that it’s hard to just do one thing at a time.
I always really like short stories because of their subtlety, the Hemingway Iceberg Rule, but I always have trouble writing them effectively because I think the balance between being detailed and vague is difficult to manage.