Forgive the complete bastardization of one of my favorite quotes… Interestingly, I’d seen that quote (the above — something along the lines of “I’d have written a shorter letter if I’d had more time”) attributed to a variety of people from Mark Twain to Abraham Lincoln. However, my interwebs search this morning turned up the following:
“I made this so long only because I didn’t have the time to make it shorter.” Blaise Pascal, Lettres provinciales, Dec 4, 1656, Number 16 (near the end!).
“He would have made it shorter, if he had had more time.” Du Perron, as recorded by Ménage, Menagiana, 1693, p.178 (Here, the record reflects reported speech, and “he” is Coeffeteau. The reported speaker is Du Perron)
(Found here, if you are curious)…
Anyway, when I was doing a lot of freelance writing, I would dance a little jig whenever I managed to successfully get a magazine assignment. My dances were a little less celebratory when the assignment was 300 words or less. (Not just because I wanted, of course, to write a feature). I learned quickly how really difficult it is to say anything substantial — complete with compelling lede and memorable finish — in that few words. It often took me longer than a 1200 word assignment would.
All of this is my roundabout way of saying that I really appreciate a good short story. And that is not to say that I believe I can write one. But I’ve been working on it (mostly procrastinating doing anything on either novel at the moment, though I can honestly say that I’m researching the newest one).
Related: Why you should be writing short fiction at Anne R. Allen’s Blog…