“Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.” ~Neil Gaiman
It has been freezing cold with abundant, hurling snow, and winter was only a few weeks old. My fantasy for this season included time to relax, read novels and biographies, and write whatever words knocked on my soul. But life rarely sticks to well-laid plans. Between taking care of family, holidays, managing schedules and school priorities, serving the hungry hordes of cats, dogs, and wild birds, tackling much-needed home improvement projects, and endless laundry cycles, my days pass faster than snow scuttling across an open field. In this kind of weather, as well as at my time of life, small bites feed my mind and heart better than a multi-course feast. Short stories hone in on what’s important and allow my scattered spirit to consider one aspect of our splintered world in all its fullness.
I carry a dim memory of writing short stories with a grade school friend, though not a scrap of any of them exists today. Thank heaven! But the attraction that held me then still holds me now—I could get something down before I had to dash off to other business.
When I started to write seriously as a middle-aged woman with far higher priorities than sitting before a keyboard, tapping out descriptions of imaginary characters, I discovered that I could not write convincingly until I knew my characters intimately. That meant that I needed background stories to “flesh out” their history, family, homes, neighborhoods, troubles, fears, and loves. Short stories gave me a peek into their private worlds and the struggles that brought them to the page of my latest work.
The amazing satisfaction of getting to know a character through one momentous event in his or her life engendered a latent love for the short story form. Soon completely new characters, people I’d never met in my wildest dreams with foreign names, popped into my imagination and demanded to have their space on the page. The best part? I could get a rough draft done in a couple of hours and still have time to make a decent dinner. The editing and proofreading could be done over a few days—a final look-over and a Grammarly check—and then I felt confident enough to publish it on my blog site.
Feedback from readers often encouraged small corrections but, overall, the immediate success of such stories won me to the habit of writing short stories as a part of my routine. It was such efforts, more than anything, that honed my overall writing skills. The integrity of a main character under the spotlight demands no less.
I added short stories to my website blog for years before I made a concerted effort to collect them into book form. By then, I realized that not all stories are worth keeping. Some are mere sketches, fragmentary efforts which never come to true life. They may deserve thanks but not the spotlight of publication.
I pared down my work and published the first collection as It Might Have Been and Other Stories. After I had received a number of encouraging reviews, I had it re-edited and published with a new cover that does the work better justice. I also collected a second arrangement of short stories, One Day at a Time and Other Stories had it edited with a quality cover, and after positive feedback from readers, I even took the work into the audiobook universe on Audible.
Having worked with Liz Wylder Boyer when she narrated my non-fiction book, My Road Goes Ever On, Spiritual Being, Human Journey I felt confident that she could voice act the characters as they were meant to be portrayed. She did not disappoint. Her dynamic style, often enthusiastic and energetic, also empathetically portrayed the tragic realities so many characters struggled to overcome.
If a short story is a “window to other worlds,” it does not necessarily have to be tiny. It can be as large as the universality of the human struggle to keep faith with the best of ourselves. It is possible to read and even write a short story while the washer spins through its cycles. A quick interrupting dash to fling the damp clothes into the dryer. Then a breather to enjoy the final pages while the clothes tumble dry. By the time the final alarm rings, the soul has entered a secret world and reemerged stronger.
Winter will be here for a while longer, so on the bitterest days when snow blankets the roads, I’ll wrap up warm, take up a short story, and enter a world just waiting to be explored. What a wonderful pleasure to get to know a character really well.
If you’d like to meet a whole collection of new people and places, living very different yet familiar lives, feel free to listen to Liz as she brings us all together, in One Day at a Time and Other Stories.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 17 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page
A. K. Frailey Amazon Author Page
“Readers interested in solid psychological inspections of intention, purpose, and changing perspectives presented as succinct, hard-hitting slices of life will relish the literary and psychological attractions of One Day at a Time And Other Stories.” ~Diane Donovan, California Bookwatch
BUY It Might Have Been on Amazon
“As usual, Ann Frailey doesn’t disappoint. Her heartfelt, down-to-earth stories are filled with real-life experiences and emotions that you can almost feel like you are experiencing them as well as you read.
She’s one of the best authors I’ve ever read.” ~Ron Hull