Does Size Matter?


It appears now we are entering a phase when a lot of talk about writing can be lumped under “size matters.” Or doesn’t. This depends on who you talk to. Because, as we all know, from another, more tittilating conversation, one involving more giggling but also more humiliation, size is important no matter what. Look at the race to build the world’s tallest building. Look at the height of the new World Trade Center. Size matters.

Ever since Alice Munroe won last year’s Nobel, and then Lynn Coady won Canada’s Giller for a (great) book of short stories, and probably way before that, writers who write about writers have been writing about writers writing short stories, look at the shelves of bookstores flooded by books of short stories, look at the quality of short stories, look at the quality of short story writers, as if great short stories haven’t been with us, since, well, when didn’t we have short stories out there? I mean, it’s the novel that is relatively recent (though that is being debated a bit more now).

The conversation is, frankly, annoying. It allows journalists to write about something other than quality. About how short stories “don’t sell” (but, like, what does these days?). About, what exactly? What is the point of pointing all this out? A story is a story.

So. Does size matter? Do we care about the length of a story? I say this as someone who writes all sorts of stories of all sorts of lengths. From very short (here I am being called a “Twitter-based story teller”) to actual novels. I might even be in the process of writing a long one. I’m not sure yet. It feels like it will be and if I’m having a problem writing it right now it is this fact that feels like it’s getting in the way of things. The length is intimidating me. Like maybe a lot. Make of that what you will.

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