The illustrious and talented Robert Shearman visited us this morning and gave an inspiring talk about short stories. He said some very insightful and helpful things, which I’m not going to repeat here because if you want to hear his great advice you should probably be paying him a lot of money for it. But one of the things I’ll take away from his talk is the way he spoke with such great passion, humour and love about reading and writing short stories. I love reading and writing short stories, too! I forgot how much.
At the moment I’m writing a novel, something which I have failed to do many, many times. This is a big part of the reason I wanted to do a creative writing MA – I needed to make a serious commitment to a major writing challenge. And I’m working on a big, difficult project that I have a lot of love for. I think it could be ace – as long as I don’t fuck it up.
But writing short stories is completely different for me. It isn’t remotely like work. It’s something I love to do and will always do. Maybe I’ll write a string of novels and they’ll all be brilliant and win awards and acclaim, and I’ll retire on my massive earnings and spend the rest of my days quaffing champers and commissioning life-size portraits of myself – the normal writer’s life, don’t you know. Whatever. I’m always going to be writing short stories, no matter what happens next, just because that’s what I love to write.
It’s depressingly easy to get sucked into the world of academia and trying to understand clever things that people say and trying to get people to give you nice grades for your writing. We all lose perspective in the face of that stuff. So it’s great to have someone come along and fire loads of enthusiasm and joy at you. And make you remember why it is you’re doing this in the first place.