On Putting Together A Short Story Collection

Many moons ago, when I was in my early teens, I read a piece of advice which I’ve always tried to stick with. I can’t remember the exact wording, but basically what it was saying was don’t talk about what you’re writing, just keep your head down and get on with it. I’ve completed umpteen novels over the past ten years, and multiple poetry collections, and have talked about their contents with very few people, and only when I’ve really had to, for example my tutors at university when I was studying for my degree in creative writing.

I think that when you share details of what you’re doing, it can go two ways. Either you find encouragement, and are madly inspired to keep right on going, or you start to feel under pressure because people know, and have expectations, and you start to flip out, then end up not writing at all. Not sharing the details of my current writing work has always worked for me, and it’s something I intend to keep on doing. In this post I’m not going to share in-depth details of what I’m currently writing, but I want to talk a little bit about why I’m doing it, to hopefully encourage those of you who want to take the first steps into a new writing project.

At the moment, I’m working on my first short story collection. For years I’ve put off starting one because I’ve never felt capable. A strong short story collection is, in my eyes, an extremely rare thing, and I was worried about not only disappointing myself, but disappointing those who have guided me on my writer’s journey. I’m not entirely sure what it was that tipped the scale the other way, but one day, a couple of months ago, I woke up and decided I was going to do it, that I could do it, that the only thing stopping me was myself. I was going to write a short story collection, and I was going to make it one that I was proud of.

I had a shaky start, but after a few days I was got into the swing of things, deciding on what topic I would be writing the night before, and starting the next day making notes for the story. Some of the stories I’ve drafted are as delicate and as tiny as bird bones. i.e. there’s very little there. But what’s important is that there is something, the foundations on which to build.

I’ve given the tiniest of details about the content to some people who need to know (i.e. my publishing partner) but that’s it. I’m going to stick by my guns and get the thing finished, then, when that all important first draft is complete, I will let people in.