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 check in 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.
13 thoughts on “Don’t Spread Your Love Too Thin”
outstanding post! as a blogger who writes novels and short stories, i now understand why when i work on one of them i feel a tad ‘unfaithful’ to the others. bravo!
Me too, man. This has been my dilemma for the last few year. I’m just now tipping my love toward my long form writing.
This is superb, Drew. Loved it! Made me smile all the way through and echoed (though you’ve brilliantly used the metaphor of relationships) my own post on shorts vs novels a while back. I spent too much of last year blogging and short storying which took me away from my main event. My novel. I made all those very excuses you talk about: It’ll make me a better writer, I’m selling my brand. Hmmmm. The truth is when you are writing a children’s fantasy/adventure/mystery story, blogging about why you hate the London Underground isn’t really hitting your demographic audience, or indeed even honing the style needed for the novel. Two completely different beasts. But the analogy here is just hilarious! And so, so true. I’ve knocked all my affairs and one night stands on the head for 2015. It’s time for me to settle down. 🙂
Thanks for a great, entertaining post 🙂
I think your blog entry triggered something I’d been thinking about for some time. I too wonder how my own journal entry posts represent my horror fiction brand.
I too decided to scale back my short fiction, flash fiction, and audio blogs, in order to get some traction on my long form writing.
As always, thanks so much for reading. I’m glad you got some entertainment out of it. 🙂
A ‘one write stand’… wham bam publish ma’am… Bahahaha! That paragraph was great. Clever analogies. I like how you characterize all these writing forms. And lately I haven’t been paying attention to my blog, focusing more on my novel, which does demand much attention, especially during this second draft phase, because right now it’s about fixing continuity issues and making the words sing, so it’s very needy (and I’ll just steer clear of the relationship analogies there, a few came to mind, but I think it’d be inappropriate, lol).
I enjoyed reading this. Clever and brilliant as always.
Thank you so much. I think I spent a lot of time on that one paragraph, trying to fit in as many puns as possible. I’m spending a lot more time on my novel too. I’m going to try to keep doing one blog a week until I can’t. Hopefully my audience will still check in every so often.
I can’t wait to take a peek at your latest creation. Keep me posted if you ever need a beta reader.
Good luck with writing! (And as a member of your audience, I will always check in. Now go finish your novel 😉
You did a great job keeping up the analogy through the whole post! ^-^ I’m also working on an analogy based post right now, it’s hard! I’ll have to try hard to make it this good.
And yes, I have been running into the blog/other work problem too. Although I am working on shorts, rather than a novel. ^-^ Still, I’d probably be done editing my WIP if I wasn’t struggling with this stupid post at the same time. And my other writing IS supposed to be more important! Maybe I ought to make a rule that I can go two whole weeks without a post if I really need to? I will need to ponder this.
Reblogged this on Amanda Volovik's WordPress Blog.