When I was studying fiction writing with Mary Morris, she said, “Writing a short story is like having an affair. Writing a novel is a marriage.”
It’s an interesting analogy. A novel is a huge commitment is terms of time—at least, a year. (Unless you’re a speed writer—if you are, I hate you. Sorry. It’s nothing personal.) Writing a novel is a promise to be there and deal with the good, the bad, and downright ugly. It’s reaching down inside yourself even when you want to have a pity party because you’re blocked/tired/afraid/hate your characters/etc. On the other hand, the pay-off is amazing. To complete a novel is a feat in itself. Most people who begin never finish because it’s really hard to organize/balance plots, subplots, character development, themes, etc. It can be demoralizing and exhausting.
That’s where the short story comes in. The short is all the passion of writing and editing in a hot and heavy couple of months. (Okay, I have a couple of shorts that I’ve been working on for years, but mostly they don’t take too long.) You get to love ’em and leave ’em. “It was nice while it lasted, baby.”
When I finished an edit of the Screwing Up Time sequel and gave it to my first beta, I decided I needed a writing affair. So I’m writing a short story that occurs between books one and two of the series. And I’m having a great time. I needed this writing fling. When it’s over, I’m getting back to the novel marriage.
So how many of you writers out there have had a writing fling? It might be just what you need to get you through the novel you’re working on.