short story envy
Not only is November National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and Poem A Day (PAD) month, this week (12th to 18th) in November happens to be National Short Story Week (no acronym) in the UK. But since the internet is a global village, we can all partake in the celebration.
The short story — how modest in bearing! How unassuming in manner! It sits there quietly, eyes lowered, almost as if trying not to be noticed. And if it should somehow attract your attention, it says quickly, in a brave little self-deprecating voice alive to all the possibilities of disappointment: “I’m not a novel, you know. Not even a short one. If that’s what you’re looking for, you don’t want me.”
Steven Millhauser, The Ambition of the Short Story, New York Times 10/03/08
I really envy people who are able to write good short stories. I’ve tried my hand at writing them several times over the years (or, ahem, decades), but it’s just not something I’m good at. So I generally stick to reading them.*
Some of my favorite sources for short stories are:
I’ve been a big fan of Glimmer Train for years. They publish a quarterly short story magazine that is probably the one subscription I wouldn’t give up no matter what. For writers, they also publish Writers Ask, a 16-page quarterly full of info and interviews with published writers. And you can sign up for their online newsletter. I subscribe to everything!
Narrative also has print and online publications. The website publishes fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and interviews. Most are free. Lots of good quality material. Sign up to receive notifications via email.
One Story mails a single short story to subscribers “about every three weeks.” The magazine is pocket sized so you can carry it around with you. I have taken issues of One Story to the dentist’s office, the eye clinic, and to Jiffy Lube. Occasionally there’s one that doesn’t appeal to me. But the overall quality is excellent.
Tin House is a high-quality literary quarterly that publishes all kinds of stuff: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, book reviews, etc. They also publish books and hold writers workshops in the summer.
I also like the short stories published in The New Yorker.
What are your favorite sources for short stories?
- Steven Millhauser the Illusionist: ‘We Others’ (Review) (popmatters.com)
- The Most Important Element of an Effective Short Story (evangelinewarren.wordpress.com)
*However, just so you’re warned, I plan to post one of my few completed short stories next time.