Celebrating short stories

short storyTomorrow (21 June) is the shortest day of the year and so, Short Story Day Africa is celebrating the short story form! *cue fireworks and general merriment*

When I began writing, I never considered the idea of writing short stories – why would I? I wanted to be ‘a writer’ and in my naive head that meant novels. Then I wrote a few short stories and realised what a great exercise it was. I found it much harder than novel writing but I learned so much from being forced to choose words carefully.

I have also found a freedom in short stories that I haven’t yet found in novels: the freedom to experiment. In short form I have played with POV, pacing, new genres and structure. I don’t always submit my experiments (remember Edison and his light bulbs? He had a whole lot of failures before it worked) but I do learn from them and I know they make me a better writer.

That’s right. I said, writing short stories will make you a better writer.

*cue ooh’s and aah’s*

I still want to write novels but I will always love short stories. I love reading them (my subscription to Asimov’s arriving on my kindle is always a highlight), I love writing them (especially when I’m done with a big project and need to get my head into a different space) and I love sharing them (hence the short stories here, for free, to download).

Tomorrow I’ll be reading as many short stories as I can. I’ll probably work on my SSDA Feast, Famine and Potluck entry for the 30th of June. And I will celebrate the wealth of storytellers in my nation.

I have loved following Short Story Day Africa and watching writers come together to encourage reading and writing. I think this year I found a greater community I can belong to and I am excited about what that means. I also learned some interesting things about the South African writing community:

* They are good writers (read the stories on the SSDA website)
* They are generous (just look at the sponsorship, donations and shared stories)
* They tend to be really funny (read the SSDA interviews – hilarious)
* They take their art seriously, but don’t take themselves too seriously (see above point)
* They are open to letting newbies with beginner-enthusiasm, like myself, come in and try some stuff… (see second point)
* Did I say this already? They are darn good writers (seriously, read those stories)

So, clear a chunk of time tomorrow and go read some short stories. The Short Story Day Africa website is full of them. AfroSF is full of them… oh, and this website is full of them too.

Enjoy Short Story Day Africa! *more fireworks and general party chaos*

Cristy

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