I woke up this morning with the desire to write another short story.
"So what," you say, "Sounds great. Go for it." No, you don’t understand. This is an incredibly bad idea. Why? I suck at writing short stories. Worse, to paraphrase Marlin from Finding Nemo, I think I can do these things, but I just can't.
I imagine myself a fairly competent novelist. Certainly, I've written my share of them. I seem to understand the process of writing a novel at least well enough to get to THE END. Starting a short story seems to be the best I can do. I usually stall out a page or two into the thing.
I suspect the reason I don't finish most of the short stories I've started is because of the way I write. I've written to outlines for my novels, but more often than not I feel my way into the story. I dilly-dally for several pages before I really know what the novel is about -- both in terms of plotting, but, perhaps more importantly, in terms of theme, as well.
This is the stuff I have to know when I start a short story. If I don't know what the theme or the plot (especially the ending) is going to be before I start, there's no way I can wrap the thing up in 5,000 words or less.
5,000 words is nothing to a novelist. That's not usually even my first chapter. I'm just getting revved up in those first thousand words, not even thinking denouement, for god's sake.
Plus, for me, writing a short story ends up being a weird kind of time commitment. It takes me months to write a short story, plus then I figure in critique and revision... and suddenly, four or five months have gone by and I haven't written a damn word on my novel due to the publisher in August, you know?
So, like I said. Stop me. For crap's sake, someone stop me.