for the love of short stories

Have you ever been asked what your favourite word is? I think it's a delightful question.
Two of my own favourite words are

This may be because I remember so many nights as a young child spent delving into the luscious big books of tales that I treasured ... books that were troves of wonder to me; a great wealth of worlds. I had novels which I also adored, but in those first years as a reader it was mostly story, myth, tale, poem, that held me spellbound. I wasn't interested in the complexities of novels - I had a rich complexity already in my own imagination. And I truly believe I had that because of the way stories and fairy tales provided only a bit of description, a glimpse of a world, a suggestion of a relationship, leaving me to embellish how I chose. Perhaps if I'd read only novels, I'd have had all my wonderings satisfied by the longer text, and never would have become a writer.




As an adult reader, I've not often found short stories that captivate me the same way my childhood tales did. I think this may be because, when written for adults, short stories tend to be clever. Which is a good thing of course, but I myself am looking more for enthrallment. When my daughter was young, I relished the joy of sharing storybooks with her - there remains such a rich glory in children's literature. And maybe as a reader I still have a child's sensibility. Or maybe I am just reading the wrong stories.

It seems to be common knowledge that the short story is dying out. This is rather upsetting news for me, since I try to write a novel, I really do, but my heart yearns always for a compendium of tales. (Sigh, the phrase transports me instantly to magical kingdoms where towers rise from old, singing woods, and plucky maidens set off in search of adventure.) I am more intensely drawn to the characters I write in my stories. I like the way I dream their lives on, long after they have been written out and published. Short stories, whether my own or those I read in a book, give me the opportunity to play more freely with the story in my own imagination. I guess it's like looking at an illustration and being more interested in the background than the scene depicted.

I'm writing this post today because I'm still trying to write that darned novel, never mind the stories singing in my heart, wanting to be told.

2 comments:

  1. Your writing is magical, Sarah, whether it fills a novel or a single page. <3

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  2. what a lovely thing for you to say, thank you :-)

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