June was a busy month for me as a writer. I had finished the rough draft of my first novel in the first half of the month. I finished my vampire novella after two years of on-and-off work, wrote four new short stories, and tossed everything into a short story collection at the second half of the month.
The vampire novella was my first attempt to write something longer than 3,000 words. I struggled for the first year to make the story coherent but it didn’t go anywhere. Before I started writing my first novel, I made a serious effort to get the novella into shape with the eighth draft coming in at ~120 pages and ~23,000 words. After spending a year writing 665 pages and 120,495 for my first novel that I wrote straight through without looking back (my first reader confirmed that the rough draft is a sprawling mess), I knew how to finish editing the novella.
For a marathon two weeks, I edited two more drafts. The tenth draft came in at 97 pages and 20,000 words. I had to trimmed back to reach that particular word count. There are approximately a half dozen print publications where I can submit a story of that length. If those markets won’t accept the story, then I will find an ebook publisher since that length is a popular size. (I’m still somewhat old fashioned about wanting to physically handle the manuscript and see my work in print.) I learned more about editing in the last two weeks then I have in the last three years.
With the completion of the novella, my short story collection was also completed since the novella represents second half of the book. Since I had time to kill between finishing this and starting the rough draft of my second novel, I had a creative burst to write four more stories of various lengths over the weekend. The collection has 27 short stories and one novella (251 pages and 47,550 words), representing three years of hard work.
A short story collection is like the bastard child of the publishing industry. If a bestselling author has a collection, no problem. But if a new author is trying to shop a collection, forget about it. That’s probably because the graduates of the literary writing programs are too busy shopping around their collection while floundering around to write their first novel. Since I didn’t graduate from a writing program, I’m not morally obligated to flog my collection around the marketplace. With only three stories published or slated for publication, I want to get more of my stories published first before the collection is published.
The purpose of my collection is to define a writing milestone I can look back on, and something I can give to an agent if I get contacted before I go agent hunting next year with my finished first and second novels.
NOTE: This blog post was first published on Once Upon An Albatross… blog.