Short stories. You know, the easy-to-write stuff. Just like novels, except that they are shorter and take up less time and effort. And nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.
I have now had thirteen full length books published (counting STARSHINE,which comes out on 11th November)and have written dozens of short stories, but only one of the latter have seen the light of day.
This is probably due to two reasons: I was not very good at writing 'em and there are very few publications left in the UK that publish short stories. I feel now that one of the mistakes I have always made in trying to create the short stuff is in regarding the form as - as stated above - really novels in a diminutive form; i.e. with a defined beginning, middle and end. Now, I am not sure that that is right. In fact, I think it is wrong.
Re-reading some of the past masters of the genre - V.S.Pritchett, William Trevor, Hemmingway, Katherine Mansfield, Scott Fitzgerald et al - I have become increasingly aware that they depict what is, in effect, a slice of life; their tales are observations on the human condition as revealed by glimpsing a happening, often not one of high drama, that illustrate what it's all about Alfie. Some of the earlier successful specialists, such as O'Henry and de Maupassant, employed the device of a slick, surprise ending to lift the tale, but the basic technique remained the same: one of revealing an episode that depicted some great truth.
So, having STARSHINE, my World War I novel poised on the slipway for launch next month, and the latest Fonthill safely put to bed for publication in the Spring of 2013, I have a little time in hand. I will, then, dip my arthritic toe into the seemingly so placid waters of short story writing.
I'll let you know how I get on.