It took longer than I wanted but I started working on a short story. I started thinking on an idea I never pursued and before long had some ideas that I was really excited about.
What’s really interesting is how different writing this is compared to my main story. I’m writing from a different perspective, the first time in over four years, and it’s an entirely different world. On one hand it’s disturbing. I have nothing to go on and it’s like a whole different language. There are new realities, more unknowns. On the other hand it gives me a chance to try different things, go with a different tone.
All this really makes me think. What should I be writing? I’ve worked on my story for a long time. I have a whole series (sort of) planned out. I do have the second story outline. I do have ideas for the next three or four stories. But in reading about agents and the publishing process I’ve seen several people ask about pitching a series vs a single book. While they do not discourage having more stories in the series, and I think that could benefit a writer later on, the most common response is to pitch the story you have now and see if it does well. If there is future potential, discuss sequels then.
Now, I have faith in my story. I’ve put a lot of work into it and have come a long way from where I was. But it’s my first completed novel length story and the first story I have ever put this much effort into. Statistically, I’m not going to get published and statistically it won’t be my first manuscript if it is. There are a lot of variables for getting published, all of which come down to whether or not an editor thinks it will sell. I may not be enthusiastic about 50 Shades of Gray or Twilight, but it sells. I might think mine is better, but that’s subjective (and biased) and there are an infinite number of variables that could push the market in any number of directions. What do you do if you’ve spent years writing one series and the first book won’t sell? Do you keep trying, honing the first story? Do you rework the whole series? Do you give up?
Even worse, what are the opportunity costs of continuing down that path? Could your energy be better used elsewhere? I can’t help but think that would be digging yourself into a hole.
I have also read several times that published authors, and I am assuming that includes short stories, are that much more attractive to an agent or publisher. What better way to hone one’s skills in writing than writing short stories, using different elements to experience a wider variety of storytelling techniques, than writing short stories?
I’m probably getting ahead of myself, but that seems to be a trend with writing for me. In the end I think writing in general is a good thing, no matter what it is. In the meantime while writing the series I would also like to attempt some short stories. Maybe one of them will develop into something more.