Starting next Friday, March 1, and continuing each Friday after that, I will post a new short story on danielgardina.com.
Because I must be crazy.
I tried to brainstorm new ideas for the blog—hopefully in the form of some kind of series since I’ve yet to host one—when the term “Fiction Fridays” popped into my head. Some quick Googling taught me that entire communities have been practicing these exercises for years. Writers could challenge each other to craft a piece of flash fiction or be inspired by group prompts. The term’s alliteration practically guaranteed this circumstance.
So, what makes this situation different?
It’s my turn.
You know how they say there is nothing new under the sun? This is what they mean. Authors must eventually understand that, over the course of civilization, every type of story has been told. I’ve heard a few people say there are actually only two narratives: a stranger comes to town or a character goes on a journey. But that’s okay. Fiction becomes new again when an author tells their version of the story. Once I remembered this tenet of the craft, I committed to the idea. In fact, I grew more excited because a market already existed.
A Form of Exercise
Writing exercises are the bread and butter of beginning fiction workshops. They allow you stretch your creative muscles by testing various techniques and voices. Since my mind has always moved toward larger projects (i.e., novels and feature screenplays), I wanted to focus more on the short form, to return to basics. This year, my exercises will be one-page tales.
The short form is difficult enough, to be able to tell a story in a limited space, while short-shorts are beasts unto themselves. A journal previously published two pieces of my flash fiction back in 2006: “Killing Birds” and “Today’s the Day,” which are included in my debut collection The Lookout and Other Stories. Let’s hope that practice helps me out here.
There is a glut of information on blogging for non-fiction authors, but the number of tactics for creative writers is paltry in comparison. For non-fiction, the most common advice is to transform book chapters into blog posts. Readers will naturally want to learn more by buying the book on the same, expanded topics.
For creative writers, fiction is our product, while blogging is traditionally a non-fiction medium. Some readers and other scribes will be interested in the director’s commentary, in learning some insight behind the story to augment their experience. But readers may not be interested in other posts on the nuts and bolts of websites, social media, and the publishing business that is more applicable for practitioners. Does writing about the business of writing attract one group while turning away another? How do we, as creative bloggers, address both groups of readers?
Most of us don’t want to post an entire novel on our websites. We give away excerpts as teasers, but the power and purpose of a narrative is following the story from beginning to end, ideally on paper or e-readers since reading an entire novel on a computer screen strains the eyes.
Yet, fiction is our business. So, why not show readers what we do best by giving them unique content that is related to our primary work?
By writing self-contained short stories on my website, I will overcome procrastination and increase productivity. I will be able to practice my craft more often while simultaneously utilizing a blogging method that is unique to the creative writer, and by extension, this will add value for both readers of my prose as well as fellow authors.
I will draft new story ideas that later could turn into larger works. I will learn new skills and try new techniques. Some stories will be better than others, but I cannot be afraid to fail. How else do we learn? Granted, most writers don’t learn so publicly since we don’t show first drafts to others. Then again, humans don’t learn by not trying anything new. Over time, my writing will become second nature again so I may finish my second novel.
Since a Fiction Friday community already exists, I hope to bring new eyes to my business and my website. Who knows? I may even get another e-book out of this experiment. Still…
This Idea Scares the Hell Out of Me
Writing is revising.
I won’t have weeks or months to tweak these pieces, and that notion is scary as hell. This emotion alone pretty much convinced me that I need to do this project.
Why I’m Really Doing This
Two reasons: 1) I want to tie my fiction more closely to the blog; and 2) the more I write, the easier it becomes. More to the point: First drafts are the most difficult for me because the editor part of my brain just doesn’t like shutting off. I know I can overcome it. I’ve done it before. Fiction Fridays will force me to do it again. By laser targeting this particular area of my process, my craft will be forced to improve at a much quicker rate. After all, improvement is always the goal.
Plus, according to author Amber Dermont, “The single-serving quality of a short narrative is the perfect art form for the digital age.”
So, really. Why not?
Public accountability is a sure-fire way to set readers’ expectations as well as my desire to not disappoint them. I will feature each week’s posting on my Twitter account, @danielgardina, in addition to my regular updates and interactions.
Give me a week to figure out how the hell I’m going to do this.
Thanks in advance for all the support I know you’re going to show me. You fine people have not disappointed me yet, and I don’t intend to let you down either.
If you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter to receive the latest Fiction Friday stories. If you’re a reader, I hope you enjoy this venture. If you’re a writer, consider joining me.