Rewards, deadlines, and motivation

March 21, 2012 § 5 Comments

Or: My love-hate relationship with deadlines

Yesterday I told my wife that I need to start writing more short stories. She promptly responded that I should give her one each week and in return I would get, da-da-da-da, “the red plate”. Now the motivational aspect of the red plate is a curious thing. I can’t say why I am so covetous of it, but it holds some mystical allure for me. Growing up, whenever any of us kids did something worthy of praise like getting good grades or making a sports team we would get “the red plate.” It was a big deal. I don’t know why, it just was. So when I got married, my wife and I were given a red plate of our own, with which she can motivate me cheaply.

Really though, the red plate was just icing on the cake. One short story a week? That sounds nigh impossible. Challenge accepted. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Short stories: a love letter

October 27, 2011 § 4 Comments

I have an embarrassing admission to make. Several actually.  The first is that until recently I generally thought short stories were dull and only good for English textbooks.  I didn’t even realize that short story markets existed outside textbooks and if you’d asked me if I’d ever read an anthology I would have had to find a dictionary. The second embarrassing thing is that the only reason I started reading short stories is because I wanted to write short stories, and the only reason I wanted to write short stories was to get the practice was to publish a novel.  I have since learned the error of my ways.

Why I love to read them:

A good short story is like lightning in a bottle.  It packs a punch with a clear theme, a lot of character, and no wasted words.  I love that when my life feels too busy to tackle a novel, I can pick up one of my anthologies and read a short story before bed with no obligation to read the next day. Often these short stories leave a bigger impact on my than most novels. « Read the rest of this entry »

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