I was determined, before starting this novel, that I would clear the decks of all short story commitments. But just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in. There’s something very tempting about a short story. You finish it more quickly for a start. There’s a feeling of accomplishment that you know won’t come with the novel for months and months. I’d written a couple of short stories last year for editors who asked me for them and then there was nothing but reams of blank paper and plenty of time in which to fill them with novelish words. And then A asked if I’d like to contribute to X and B asked if I might have something they could use for Y and C came at me with Z. If you’re invited it’s difficult to say no. I seldom do. Mainly because I’m energised by the project and maybe get a quick idea that might work well, but there’s also fear that if I say no, the invitations will dry up and I’ll be back to where I was in 1986, writing on spec material with no idea of where to offer it.
I’d hoped to have six clear months in which to get a first draft of Loss of Separation completed and edited to a presentable state, but now I have five short stories I’ve agreed to write before the summer. I’m not complaining. I know there are writers out there who would give their eye teeth to be in a position where editors are passing invitations their way to submit to an anthology. I was one of them. I love to be asked. I need to find a way of splitting myself into two so that mini-me can crack on with the short stuff while I wrestle this novel into submission.
Listened to: A Biography of the Rev. Absalom Dawe by John Surman