|"I remember wanting to do something about that enormous-faced wristwatch she was wearing — perhaps suggest that she try wearing it around her waist." |
J D Salinger - For Esme ~ With Love and Squalor
There is something magical about the short story form. I think it's that you can do pretty much anything with it, malleable within a nominal framework of a piece you can read in a single sitting - if you adopt Edgar Allan Poe's formula. It's also unlikely to make you a fortune - not that it ever did, which means by and large you write short stories because you want to, because it suits you, because you have something to say and the desire to get it said.
'The short story, I should point out, is perforce a labor of love in today's literary world; there's precious little economic incentive to write one...'
Lawrence Block, Manhattan Noir
Coming up with stories and angles for a new series of workshops for Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre, starting this Thursday evening, I had the task of working through a box file full of collected stories, dog-eared photocopies and well-read favourites. And that was before looking for new angles; I wanted to include something that could loosely be termed 'genre fiction' this time around. There are the 'moment in time' stories, the 'time condensed' stories - a life told in a thousand words; chance meetings and un-meetings; lives broken and redeemed. Idiot stories; stories that bend convention so far it disappears up its own metaphor. But what still gives me that thrill is the sense of possibility the short story offers.
'I have a three-by-five up there with this fragment of a sentence from a story by Chekhov: “…and suddenly everything became clear to him.” I find these words filled with wonder and possibility. I love their simple clarity, and the hint of revelation that’s implied.'
Raymond Carver - Principles of a story
It's fundamental for me, in designing a course, to offer the opportunity to examine the craft at work in the short story. For anyone who has written a little or nothing at all, or for the writer with some experience, exploring the skills needed to place the first words on a blank page with a deeper understanding of the 'how and why' brings with it greater confidence. The course provides the tools and some well-practised tricks of the trade. From there it's up to you.
Short Story Writing: 28 Plough Hill, Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre, Thursday evenings 7pm-9pm - 13, 20, 27 September and 4, 11, 18 October. £60 for the 6-week course. Call 01472 851605 to book.