I’ve always been impressed with how much fiction StoryADay friend and participant Alexis A. Hunter pushes out into the world: over 50 short stories in publications like Apex, Shimmer and Cricket.
In 2017, she has committed to writing a new short story every month.
That sounded like my kind of challenge, so I asked her more about it.
(You can join in by following #12for12Stories on Twitter.)
Why did you want to write 12 stories this year?
I had recently realized that most of my published stories were flash fiction. I often have a hard time writing short stories of any greater length than that 1,000 word mark. So I decided I wanted to do SOMETHING to fill out my short story catalogue a bit. As I tend to be extremely motivated by challenges, I thought why not make one of my own? I actually hope to write more than 12 stories this year–but 12 seems like a nice sound goal to start with for sure.
(Have you ever thought about your already-written stories as a ‘catalogue’ of stories from which you could be pursuing publication? Why not create a folder, today, of stories that are ready to go out and meet the world? If you’re nervous, you don’t have to send them out today! Just gather them up! – JD)
What’s the advantage of setting a goal like this?
It offers motivation and clear direction. Simply saying “I want to write more short stories this year” doesn’t provide–for me anyway–enough clear parameters. There’s a certain delightful feeling when you hit a goal, at work, in your personal life, wherever it may be, and you can’t have that ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED feeling without having a clear cut goal.
(Sometimes goals can seem like a ball and chain; they can be intimidating and paralyzing. I LOVE this way of looking at it, however, because I love that ‘achievement unlocked’ feeling. Don’t you? How could you change your way of looking at one thing you want to achieve this week? – JD)
And how’s it going so far?
As for how it’s going, so far so good! Kind of! Ha, I wrote my first story for the month and it was a slog all the way through. It was definitely longer than my usual flash fiction bit, but I hate how it turned out.
That’s okay though–whether I go on to clean it up or not, it’s still a good start.
It still gets my brain shifting gears to that longer form and sort of whets my appetite for the rest of the year.
(Are you willing to spend time working on a story that might not work out? Spoiler alert: you’d better be! Not every story is going to work out. Write them anyway! – JD)
What’s your method for pursuing publication?
I don’t have a clear cut method for pursuing publication, no “have five stories out” kind of thing–mostly because I just try to keep whatever stories I have in inventory out on submission whenever possible.
That means, often, having a next market to submit to already in mind–then when I receive a rejection, I simply boot it back out the door on the same day. Due to selling stories and trunking others, however, I currently have only two stories out on submission.
Another reason for doing the #12for12stories challenge–I need more stories to send out!
(Are you ready to pursue publication? Remember, publication isn’t “success”. Success comes however you define it. Writing the story may be enough for you. If, like Alexis, you’re pursuing publication, do you have a strategy? Are you sending out more than one story at a time? Leave your thoughts in the comments, below. – JD)
What have you learned about writing in the midst of changing life circumstances?
Last July, I gave birth to an adorable little person who won’t stop sticking her tongue out at me and doesn’t really like sleeping very much. This, needless to say, is a big changing life circumstance.
The thing I’ve learned the most sinse her arrival has been that I CAN write a story over the course of multiple days. You see, I used to write a story all in one go. I thought it was the only way I could write.
This stems from my early writing days when I often faced writer’s block. I thought I had to write a story all at once or I’d lose the thread and be unable to complete it. Having a baby, well, it means my writing time is sparse or at least much more divided.
I’ve been forced to adapt and found that I am, indeed, adaptable!
I still prefer to write all at once, but it’s good to know I don’t HAVE to do so.
(This was my experience too! Outside obligations have a way of stripping back our pretentious about what we need in order to be able to write. What precious ‘must haves’ does your writing life contain, that you might be able to jettison this year? – JD)
Learning To Revise And Edit
Additionally, I think I’ve really been learning how to revise and edit.
It was something I always avoided whenever possible. My drafts tend to pour out very clean. If they weren’t structurally sound and required big changes, I’d just trunk the story and move on.
Just before my kiddo was born, I had written a novella. In those early weeks and months with her, I spent time editing, revising, and generally tinkering with that novella. And…I learned to LOVE it. It’s currently out to beta readers and I’m STILL thinking of things I want to adjust or change.
That was just mind blowing to me. That *I* of all people could enjoy editing/revising and that I could do it well.
(How do you feel about revision? Have you learned to love it yet? If not, try taking the free 7DayStory email course, which will guide you through writing, revising and releasing a new short story…in a week. – JD)
How can people learn more about #12for12Stories?
The hashtag on Twitter is, at the moment, probably the best way to learn about the challenge. I haven’t really made a post about it on my site — though that’s probably a good idea!
I’m updating on Twitter with my progress using the hashtag and I’ve seen several other writers doing so as well. I continue to check in on the tag every day or so and am trying to be people’s cheerleader a bit as I know these challenges can be tough.
Thanks, Alexis! And thanks for the challenge. Good luck, and I’ll see you on Twitter!
You can follow Alexis on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/AlexisAHunter