Back in September I wrote about the squishy metrics of my goal to write six short stories this year. You can read the details there, but the long and short of it is that last week I finished another story . . . ish. See, it’s flash. Again. Less than a thousand words long. Which, although it counts as A Thing I Can Submit, doesn’t quiiiiiiiite convince my brain I’ve hit the target.
Which is why I’ve decided that a different metric should apply here. See, in 2018 I set out to write six short stories, and managed five. In 2019 I set out to write six short stories, and managed five, plus a novelette that’s going into Driftwood rather than being submitted, plus three pieces of flash fiction. Whether that counts as “six short stories” or not is, by official decree, less relevant than the fact that I wrote more than I did the year before.
Of course, that’s dangerous in its own way. It risks engaging the gear in my brain that says so you should do even more in 2020! And it’s possible for me to play pernicious games around wordcount, fretting that writing more individual stories doesn’t count if their total length doesn’t add up to more than the previous year. Writers have a strong tendency toward neuroticism, and I’m no exception; I can always find a way to tell myself I ought to be achieving more.
So I’m also trying to shift my attention to something else more useful: my list of unwritten story ideas. That “six story” goal is the reason I prodded myself to write the most recent piece (and then sort of missed because it wound up only 640 words long), but there’s another reason as well, and that’s my short story collections. With the exception of Never After (which is a special case), I’m only collecting previously published stories, not new work. I (for slightly absurd reasons) wanted one more story based on some kind of Near Eastern source to go into an upcoming collection of works inspired by folklore and mythology, and knew I would feel much more satisfied if I managed to get that done this year. As of this most recent flash piece, I can check off that box, and move that collection one step closer to happening.
And that’s why I’m already casting speculative glances in the direction of another story concept. Writing that one (and selling it, of course) would complete the lineup for another collection — the last of the original set I had planned when I first started putting these together. So that’s high on my hit-list for 2020. In theory I could do it before the end of this year (and thus realio trulio achieve the goal of six short stories, no waffling about flash fiction required) . . . but I don’t think that’s likely to happen. It needs more composting first.
Goal for 2020: six short stories. Just like it was for 2019 and 2018. In the end, the final number doesn’t really matter, so long as setting that goal fulfills its real purpose, which is getting me to write more short fiction again.