The Flash Fiction Fling
A writer who flirts with several forms of writing at the same time is in a polyamorous relationship with each of them.
Flash fiction has no delusions about its role in the relationship. It knows the wordsmith is just looking for a ‘one write stand,’ a moment of passion in a micro medium. Flash fiction doesn’t mind when a writer forgoes first act foreplay and dives right into the action. It isn’t surprised by the premature punctuation before a resolution. It knows that once its 300 words are up the writer will be on to the next one. Wham bam publish ma’am.
The Short Story Shrug Off
A short story might get a little more optimistic, surprising the writer with new ideas the moment they were going to call it quits. The short story plays with its dangling plot threads, fantasizing about where else the relationship could go.
At first, the short story says it was only in town for the weekend, now it’s talking about staying on through the season. “What do you think about riding this thing out a little longer, nothing too serious. If we have to put a term on it, we can call it a novelette.”
The short story gazes at subplots through shop windows. It tricks the writer to come with it to look at chapter titles. Before long it’s kicking at prologues.
“It’s our ten-thousand word anniversary. Wouldn’t it be crazy if we made it all the way to fifty? We can still keep it nice an open, we’ll just call it a novella.”
One night the writer realizes they should’ve broken the story off earlier, when the intensity was stronger, now it’s just meandering around the apartment looking for a plot line.
The Blog Bewitchment
A blog is a long term relationship that comes in the guise of an affair. It looks like fun, a low maintenance lover. It only wants the writer’s attention a couple of times a month. That all changes when it sees the true potential of the relationship. Then it requires the writer to checkin several times a week.
The blog texts the writer in the middle of the night and wonders why it doesn’t get an immediate response. The blog insists the writer introduce it to all their friends. It doesn’t care if the writer’s work buddies aren’t interested in its niche. It craves approval from everyone.
If these possessive blogs had their way, every writer would change their relationship status to: Full Time Blogger.
The blog knows it doesn’t have everything a word weaver is looking for. It tricks the writer into staying by encouraging experimentation. It’s open to a little kinky satire every now and then. Why it even welcomes poetry, memoirs, and fiction as long as they all crawl beneath the cover of its platform.
The Novel Nuptials
A novel might not seem like such a commitment at first. A writer might rush in without a plan, but the first argument they have about plot points ought to clue them in to how deep it’s gotten. A novel might start as a short story, some midsummer fun, but it quickly evolves into something serious. The writer knows this relationship will be more fulfilling than the others, but they’re not sure if they’re mature enough to handle it.
A novel can be a jealous lover, especially when a writer’s late night excursions have made them forget important story events. The novel deserves the writer’s full attention. It needs to be nurtured, edited, and reassured.
There comes a time when a writer’s relationship with their novel needs to be monogamous.
Being a Novelist and a Blogger is a Sitcom Scenario
Juggling a blog and a novel is like going on two dinner dates at once. The blog is in a casual diner, while the novel waits in an restaurant with a strict dress code. The moment a writer starts enjoying the conversation with their novel, they realize they have to run across the street and chat up their blog. Pretty soon the writer mixes topics, confuses one medium for the other, wears formal structure to their blog, and lets it all hang out in front of their novel.
The writer ends up spreading their affection too thin. Their heart may be in their novel, but these other relationships offer instant gratification. A writer’s true feelings get lost beneath a swarm of documents.
Good luck convincing a novel all these side relationships are for its benefit. “I’m only doing all this to make myself a better writer, so I can come back and please you more.”
For the sake of punctuating this metaphor, imagine a giant anthropomorphic book throwing their drink in your face.
Writer’s get burnt out trying to maintain all these relationships at once. We end up taking time to practice artistic abstinence. I end up bingeing on video games and TV shows I’d put off during the writing process.
Remember Your First Love
Writers are told to sell themselves before they sell their material, to put their brand before their book, to lure readers in with articles before asking them to commit to reading novels. In an era where readers have too many options to choose from, this is a good plan. It gives readers a taste of a writers’ voices without charging anything.
The problem is, what’s the use of setting up a brand when you have nothing to sell?
If you’re blogging with the intention of introducing your books to an audience, you’re going to have to take the time to finish one. If you’re charging through a novel, your blog is going to have to take a hit.
This doesn’t mean you have to resort to social media silence, just pay attention to what your audience responds to and streamline it. I have a document full of writing topics worth developing into blog entries. This way I don’t have to spend all weekend coming up with new ones. I’ve started turning my better tweets into meme galleries that I share throughout the week. Even with those backup plans in place, I haven’t had time to post poems, flash fiction, or short stories. Those things will just have to wait until I’m done with what I’m working on.
While you’re in a committed relationship with your book, blog on your own terms. Blog entries that feel obligatory to write will be a chore to read. Don’t just go through the motions to hit artificial deadlines. Don’t spread your love too thin.