Joel’s Journal – September 9, 2016

A writer spotted in his natural habitat.

A writer spotted in his natural habitat.

Project Update – The Summer of Short Stories

Well that went by quick didn’t it?

I thought it was yesterday that I sat down to write that first short story and now it’s three months later and five stories deeper and I’m wrapping the whole thing up.

There were a bunch of reasons I decided to hit the pause button on my current novel and write short fiction for an entire season, and honestly it’s the best feeling knowing I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.

First, I simply wanted to clear my head.

The novel I’m working on had started to get too convoluted, too stressful, and like too many people trying to squeeze through a single doorway at the same time, my ideas just weren’t flowing through my brain to my finger tips. By stepping aside for a few months and letting it all simmer, I’m excited to get back to work and finish it up. At this point, I imagine I’m about 3/4 of the way there and it’s sitting at just under the 90,000 word plateau.

Second, I simply wanted to clear my head.

Oh, shit, that was the first one wasn’t it? Yeah, it is, but this one is a little different.

On a daily basis, and yeah, I’m not kidding, and probably two or three times a day. I’ll be talking to someone on the phone, or watching some people outside the office window, or just random thoughts will connect in my head and I’ll think, “that would make a good story”.

Each of those ideas get written on a mental piece of paper and tacked to the back of my memory. There’s so many of them that some get lost in the collage of lined paper and scrawled writing that exists up there, but some of the good ones stick around.

So, I wanted to finally take some of those mental pages down, clear off the dust and see whether they still had the legs I originally thought they did. As it turns out, four of them did, the other story came to me in the summer and I cranked it out.

Third, I wanted to write short fiction again, plain and simple.

It’s a completely different monster than writing a novel. Novels can be a gruelling, no-reward-for-a-very-fucking-long-time type of task. Short stories are fun and quick. I know there’s a lot more finessing that goes into a successful short story; you essentially have less room to tell a lot more, but I was only writing first drafts this summer, and first drafts are like your first beer of the night, it goes down easy.

Finally, and the reason that I’m actually the most excited about (though it does feel good to have some of those pages cleared out of my head) I wanted to start marketing my writing again.

When I first started writing in university, I would send my stories away to magazines and online libraries that published fiction. I was met with little success (getting one story published online), but now that it’s almost eight years in, I think my writing has improved. I certainly fucking hope so, to put it mildly.

So, with these stories I can start trying to pitch them to magazines or other markets and try and get my fiction out there. I’ll also of course save a couple for sharing here, not to worry.

I imagine I’ll get back to work on my novel in the next week or so. As fall arrives I know I’m going to be feeling more motivated than ever. My next few mornings I think will be spent writing some more content for the blog. I’ve got a few general topics I want to expunge about, I want to do another longer essay on my Europe trip (it was five years ago September 5 that Daniel and I left!) and I also want to give a few more behind the scenes looks at my reporting.

In the meantime, I’m working on some previews and book covers for the stories I finished this summer. Five in three months? I’m seriously happy with that.

Thanks for reading,



 (If you don’t follow me on Snapchat already, add me – joeljwittnebel)