The short version:
The more leisurely version:
Short stories are my first love. When I first went to an evening writing class—led by the wonderful Helen Lamb, a master of the short story—I wrote short stories. My first ever thrill of publication was for my story, ‘In the Museum’. When I received the news, I did a lumbering bear dance around the bedroom.
I’ve written many stories since and I’ve also worked on two novels. I relish the world-building of novels, and I especially love living through so many experiences with my novel characters. I know and understand my novel characters better than I know and understand many people. Often, however, I feel more comfortable, and more excited, when writing short stories. And it’s not about the shorter time required to write: I don’t think short stories necessarily are quicker to write. I’ve taken years whittling away at some of my stories. It’s the intensity of the short story that I love, as both reader and writer. The closing-in on a moment that matters. Recently, I received the most astute and helpful feedback on a short story: ‘keep your character in the room’. Don’t let her slip out that door, literal and metaphorical, until she’s confronted the truth. This , for me, sums up the delight and challenge of the short story form. As William Trevor said, ‘it should be an explosion of truth’.
I was delighted, then, when I first heard of a new opportunity offered by The Bridge Awards: a Short Story Mentoring Award, working with Cherise Saywell. It would be such a good thing to have a mentoring scheme specifically for short-story writers—who so need, and appreciate, nurture in a publishing culture that still favours novels.
So, to discover I have won this award is thrilling! Cue another lumbering bear dance. I’m already looking forward to working with Cherise on my short stories. Feedback from a writer like her is manna. With this support, I hope to shape and gather them into a collection. Thank you, Bridge Awards.
Long live the short story!