Short Story Month

In case you didn’t know already, May is celebrated as Short Story Month. At Penguin Random House, they offer a list of their best short story collections. Electric Literature too is celebrating this May.

I have blogged before about the Short Story Challenge I had participated in two years in a row, which really freed up my writing muscles as I strove to complete one short story every month. The exercise placed the focus on completion of the stories, which is really important. More often than not, we start stories with enthusiasm but find that it peters out.

In May, writers are encouraged to write one short story per day. That is too much even for me. At the most I could attempt flash fiction, but even a five-hundred-word piece with a coherent beginning and end is easier said than done.

Are you planning to write any new stories to celebrate Short Story Month in May? Do share links to your stories in the comments!

Starting with Goodbye

If you write creative nonfiction, you must head over to Lisa Romeo’s corner of the web right now. I’m pleased to share that her memoir Starting with Goodbye was launched on 1st May! 

Lisa-Romeo-fuller-2015

Lisa works as an editor, teacher, and freelance book manuscript editor. Her work is listed in Best American Essays 2016, and she has been nominated for additional BAE and Pushcart Prize awards. She also serves as an editor for two literary journals.  

I enlisted her help with my creative nonfiction and I highly recommend it. If you ever feel stuck and need guidance, sign up for her services! 

You can order her book here, and watch a beautiful book trailer here!

 

National Poetry Month

In case you didn’t know it already, April is National Poetry Month in the US! 

I am by no means an expert on poetry, but I’ve grown from an ambivalent reader who found poems confusing at first to someone who has grown to love it. 

In my school days, we learnt a lot of poetry as part of our English curriculum. It intimidated me at first but I soon got the hang of it. Here are a few of my favourite poems from school:

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Home they brought her warrior dead by Lord Alfred Tennyson

The Frog and the Nightingale by Vikram Seth

 

You can also join the Poetry Challenge on Writer’s Digest here.

Nowadays I read the poetry that fills the pages of the literary journals I read regularly or subscribe to, and I also subscribe to A Poem a Day.  

This is a wonderful way to keep in touch with poetry. Every day a brief new shiny poem will show up in your inbox and need not steal more than a few minutes of your schedule to read it and absorb the beauty of words. 

I believe reading poetry even if one doesnt write it can help writers appreciate the beauty and lyricism of words and recognize the beats in their own writing better. 

Though most poetry is non-rhyming these days, I’ve written a mix of poems, including limericks, rhymes and the like. You can read some of my poems here (scroll down to the end). 

Do you read poetry at all? If you do, what are your favourite poems? If you write poetry, please do share some links for us all to enjoy!

Third Flatiron

I’ve always been a fan of the science fiction and fantasy journal Third Flatiron. Their Spring anthology, “Monstrosities,” is now available in ebook format on Amazon 

It is available free to Kindle Unlimited members. 

The 20 satirical, fantasy, and horror stories contained in the book would be a great read while you wait for spring to finally kick winter to the curb. 

Click here for details. 

Submissions are now open for their Summer 2018 issue (“Galileo’s Theme Park”). 

Check their website at http://www.thirdflatiron.com for info and deadlines. If any of the themes inspire you, consider sending along a story for consideration. 

The Drive: To help them continue publishing great stories and paying writers well, please subscribe (it’s only $1/month) or support us on Patreon at patreon.com/thirdflatiron. 

F or NF?

Ever since I picked up creative writing, I have written a mix of fiction and nonfiction. I launched my writing career with a nonfiction humour piece that found publication in a major Indian women’s magazine called Femina. I followed it up with several more pieces of humorous nonfiction, but I tried my hand at writing fiction alongside as well. In this endeavour, my efforts met with less success. My critique group rightly ripped my stories apart, but I persevered and managed to get a few shorter pieces published to begin with.

In the years since, I find myself equally divided between fiction and creative nonfiction. Some days I pick up my laptop determined to write a short story but it doesn’t flow and a nonfiction piece comes quite easily instead. On other days when I begin an essay, the muse doesn’t cooperate and prods me towards a short story instead.

I’m at the stage now where I go with the flow. Earlier I used to stress about it, mistakenly believing that I should stick to one and master it rather than dabble in different genres and fail spectacularly in all of them.

However, when I researched this problem a little, I found that most writing websites advising trying genres to test one’s mettle and also one’s interest. I have not found myself gravitating to any one particular field yet. Even within fiction, I write a mix of YA, contemporary realist, speculative and magical realism stories.

To add to this heady mix of fiction and creative nonfiction is poetry. I find it tough to write poetry, even though I have had poems published but those are more on the humorous side. My muse often pushes me towards poetry as well. I have written a few serious poems but so far I haven’t tried to get them published, convinced as I am that they are spectacularly poor and don’t deserve publication. However I haven’t got them critiqued either. Poetry is something I plan to tackle later, when I have wrapped up penning the stories and essays that I have already ideated first.

A number of classic novelists were excellent essayists as well. You can read them on Project Gutenberg, like this collection by George Eliot.

A few of my writer friends do attempt to write both, but some are devoted to one particular form of writing – say science fiction or perhaps children’s stories, or even journalistic pieces that involve research and reporting. I admire and envy their single-minded focus, considering my writing is nowadays all over the place.

But after years of experimenting with different types of writing, I realized my attempts would never go to waste. I count all of it towards practice.

And as the old adage goes which we learnt when we were children, practice makes perfect.

At least, that’s what I have pinned my hopes on.

What is your favourite genre of writing? Do you feel moved to experiment in different modes of writing as well? Do let me know in the comments below!

The Millennium Enters Adulthood

Happy New Year Everyone! A warm welcome to the 18th year of the current century and indeed, of the millennium!

Each December I undertake a detailed review of the year gone by. You can read my past year-end summaries here, here and here. 

The first quarter of the year whizzed past in adjusting myself to a regular workday routine after six months of maternity leave. Glancing through my records, I observe that I actually began writing and submitting around April. 

I finally took the advice of this article and started sending out my stories to multiple venues at a time, and I’ve hit 100 rejections for the year! 

I also have 8 acceptances to show for my efforts. 

The growth I see this year is in my writing which I believe has improved. The evidence is visible in the form of a few personal/higher-tier rejections I received from some of the most reputed literary journals. It may sound strange to brag about rejections but anyone who writes and submits will know exactly what I am talking about. 

On the other end of the spectrum lies my disappointment at not placing in the contests I entered though I believed the stories were of good quality.  

I had hoped to close the year on a win, but by the onset of the festive season, that hope blurred and eventually died down. I imagine all the editors shut down their laptops and headed out for the ragged mountains or sandy beaches, or simply snugged close to the loved ones while tearing the wrapping off their Christmas presents under the light of the tree. 

I’d have shared more detailed stats for the year but I’m not really sure they are that useful. The main thing to note is that submitting your writing amounts to a numbers game. The more you submit, the higher the chances of acceptance. 

I will continue to plod my way through 2018, trudging through my archives digging out stories to be revised and submitted, and hoping for the best. I remain, as always, incurably optimistic.

What are your resolutions for the new year?

The Prodigal Daughter

I am thrilled to report that my story The Prodigal Daughter was published in Reedsy as a winner of their previous week’s writing prompt. Do take a look and like/share/comment on it!

If you haven’t come across Reedsy before, I highly recommend you subscribe to their writing prompts. They offer editorial consultation and they also host a variety of free courses. I took the course for YA novels and writing short stories, both of which I found extremely useful.

What’s happening on the writing front for you?