How is writing a short story collection different, especially coming after such a raved-about debut novel? Do you like writing short stories better--or novels?Learn more about the author and her work at Sandra Novack's website.
Short stories are more severe. In essence, too, these stories were mostly written before PRECIOUS, my debut. EVERYONE BUT YOU was part of a two-book deal that my agent brokered for the then-completed collection, along with an 80-page partial of my novel. The novel was published first with the collection to follow. After PRECIOUS came out, I didn’t return to short stories but dove into writing a new ‘big book’. So when it came time to revisit the stories, I had a very difficult time! I quickly realized I was a different writer than the writer I was in 2003-2005. I was a different person, too. I felt like I was ruining things, messing around too much, and lots of times I opted for the original version. It felt more honest that way.
I’m very hard on myself with writing, either when writing stories or a novel. People tell me the stories are funny and irreverent and moving, but it’s hard to get clarity of vision anymore. Interestingly, I also feel that way about PRECIOUS, despite any praise it received. When I read it now, I cringe. I’m told there are many writers like this, who are always hypercritical of anything they’ve ever done. And my perceived ‘best’ work is always my newest work, the story I’m in right now.
As for what I like better: I tend to think that writing short stories was prepping me for being able to juggle more threads, bigger worlds and more expansion--a preparation for novel writing. I don’t have plans to go back to short stories, at least for now. But I stand by them, because they are part of me. And they really are much more funny compared to PRECIOUS, which seemed to get everyone thinking I was this very, very serious, intense writer. I am that, but...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Sandra Novack’s Precious.