For the first decade of my writing life, I worked solely on short stories and the occasional personal essay. I wrote everything from 100 word ‘postcard’ fiction to 3,000 word pieces in different genres. I wound up with fifty published short stories, and even won a few writing competitions. It was a great training experience for full-length novels, and here’s why:
- With only a limited amount of writing time, it allowed me to create finished, polished work
- I learned how to make every word count
- I learned to meet deadlines
- I learned to accept rejection and benefit from editorial critiques
- I built a list of publication credits, which helped acquire a book publisher
Back in the day, I was fan of Canada’s literary magazines and subscribed to a number of them, so many in fact that I had stacks of unread issues, which took a long time to get through, but I did. I also learned that guidelines are firm rules, not suggestions. If my 2,000 word piece was actually 2,200 words, it could be automatically discarded.
One big reason for publishing success was that I listened to editorial advice. If I was lucky enough to receive feedback, I incorporated suggestions, resubmitted, and wound up published. The experience certainly helped me understand the process when I worked with book editors.
These days, I spend too much time working on novels to return to short fiction, but I still love reading the work of others in my writers’ groups. They remind me of those early days. They inspire me to think that writing both short fiction and full-length novels is doable at this stage of my career.
This must be why I was drawn to the attached link from cbc.ca, which lists Canadian literary magazines and journals now accepting fiction. Regardless of where you are in your career, I recommend giving short fiction a try.