Over at the Emerging Writers Network, Dan Wickett, executive director and publisher of Dzanc Books, has come up with a great way to bring attention to the short story by declaring May National Short Story Month. The short story may be brief, but it demands a high level of attention and rigor. With a story, every word matters, along with the words that aren't there, in the gaps and omissions and questions left unanswered. Those who write short stories know the demands, the challenge is part of the process and its reward.
The blog at Poets and Writers has a post on NSSM, featuring this excerpt with Larry Dark, director of The Story Prize: “It’s a very American form. From Hawthorne and Poe to Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner, almost every great American writer has done the short story, and there are some great writers, like Flannery O’Connor, who practically only wrote short stories. Funding for the arts has been cut, but there’s a lot of activity around the short story, and I think it could be promoted and brought to people’s attention a little better.”
So the short story needs advocates, and for National Short Story Month, it has many. At the Emerging Writers Network blog, Wickett is covering three stories per day, one from a published collection, one from a print periodical, and one from an online journal—to read and blog about. And over at his author site, Matt Bell, whose story collection How They Were Found was recently published by Keyhole Press, has weekly posts, reviews of new stories, excerpts of writers on writing the story (including this great excerpt from The Paris Review interview with Amy Hempel on the sentence), and guest posts by writers on their favorites. At Perpetual Folly, the blog of writer Clifford Garstang, there are links to discussions, reviews and a list of participating sites. At The Best Damn Creative Blog, where I'm a regular contributor, there are reviews, staff picks of favorites stories and beginning today, an open thread on favorite first lines. Many other sites and blogs are taking part, with features, reviews and appreciations. I love the ongoing list of best living short story writers over at Vroman's blog.
If you're on Twitter, search Short Story Month with the hashtag #ssm2011.