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October 18, 2013

TMoRP Day 2 – Short story challenge

Filed under: the month of relentless positivity — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 10:54 pm

Of the goals I set for myself at the start of the year, the only one that I’m comfortably ahead on is reading short stories. At the end of 2012, Alan Baxter wrote on his blog about reading more widely in the short story form. The target he set was to read at least one short story a day in 2013. I figured that I could have a stab at the same accomplishment. Like Alan, I guessed that I would fall short of the mark, that life would get in the way or that I would lose interest in tracking stats all year.

What I forgot is Kickstarter. Specifically, what I forgot is my complete lack of impulse control when it comes to people calling for backers for short story anthologies. Shame prevents me from checking, but my Kindle probably has at least two dozen short story collections and themed anthologies in electronic format, most of which are Kickstarter rewards. A few others have come to me via Humble Bundle deals, I have a couple of e-magazine subscriptions and some preferred websites, and a few other books have been discounted at Amazon just when I happened to be browsing Twitter and saw a link.

(Okay, I have a serious problem with buying more reading material than I need. Let’s move right along past that not-at-any-time-in-my-entire-life-has-that-been news. We’re being positive here.)

On top of that, there are any number of great podcasts featuring live reads of short fiction. The one I mainly follow is the Clarkesworld Podcast. I just don’t have enough listening time to follow too many more than that. There are plenty of others, though, and at some point in the future I plan to study the field in a little more depth.

For right now though, the point is that I have access to a metric crapton of short stories. The vast majority are fantasy, science fiction or mystery/crime (in that order) though I have a few other odds and ends waiting for some eyeball time.

And oh, how I’ve read them. In quantities far more vast that I would have expected when I started. As of yesterday, my spreadsheet has recorded the titles, authors and sources of the 598 pieces of short fiction I’ve read since the first of January. After I finish this I’ll go to bed and read at least a few more, taking the number comfortably past 600 stories.

So: apparently I like reading short stories. Now, to be sure, there are plenty of stories in the list which are super-short – say, under 2000 words in length, most of which probably took no more than four or five minutes to read (at most). I know for a fact that I’ve counted several pieces of flash fiction (i.e. 1000 words or less) but I know I’ve read many more that I didn’t record. I only bothered with the short-short pieces I thought were reasonably memorable, something that i find is rarely accomplished in flash-length pieces.

Much of what I’ve read has been middling at best, which gives me great hope that there are plenty of markets out there for not-terrible-but-not-great writing (ahem). However, this is The Month of Relentless Positivity, and we are only talking about the things that make us gleeful. So consider today’s entry to be a generalised “Woo! Short stories! Aren’t they terrific?”

But take it also as the launchpad for a number of sequel posts on a similar subject. I’ve gone to all the trouble to keep this now-oversized spreadsheet, and further to mark all the stories I thought were pretty noteworthy, if not outright great. So now I’m going to do a series of posts (not necessarily in straight succession as that might be a little tedious) in which I gush about the best stories I read month by month, talking about what I loved about it, where I first came across the story and whatever else it might have meant to me. If there’s a copy of it available online somewhere (legitimately that is) I’ll link to it.

Note that this won’t be a best-of-2013 list, because I expect that the majority of stories are older than that. While there are a lot that were 2013 publications, most are probably from the last decade rather than the last 12 months, and some a quite a bit older again.

But yeah, short stories: they rock. Starting tomorrow, I’ll talk about the ones which rocked me.

The Month of Relentless Positivity – Day 2 Progress Report . I’m already almost behind schedule. Well, no surprises there, but I think I’ll try to get a few extra entries lined up so that days like today, which featured no spare minutes before 10 pm, don’t killĀ  the project. Luckily, I came up with this content-generation concept that will be good for at least 10 entries, so I should have enough to be getting on with.

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