“How I Broke Up With (for good I thought) and Fell Back in Love With the Short Story,” an essay by faculty member Steven Schwartz, appears online at Beyond the Margins.
Yes, the short story and I were through. I’d written two books of stories but decided after one previous failure at writing a novel that I’d try again at forty-two years old. And this one worked. It worked so well in fact that I came to agree with what other writers have sometimes said: that stories were only an apprenticeship to writing novels. And the short story form did feel, well, limited. Any good idea or great line or irresistible incident could fit somewhere in a novel. I began to believe as Cormac McCarthy opined in his dismissal of short stories in favor of novels, “Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth the doing.”
I remembered my fellow MFA students who painstakingly spent their entire three years of graduate school working on a novel, with something akin to the faith in an afterlife. Instead of acceding to the common exhortation that they experiment with stories, try out different voices, explore a diversity of material, fool around, they thrashed onward, failure be damned. Maybe they had it right. …[Keep Reading]…
Steven is the author of the story collection Little Raw Souls (2013, Autumn House Press).