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Short circuit

Today’s the shortest day of the year, which also makes it International Short Story day. It’s dark and rainy and only just hitting ten degrees in my chilly little South Australian town, so I’ve got the fire roaring and the blues playing and am working on promotional bits and pieces ahead of The Rest is Weight appearing in bookshops in eleven days. Yikes! Eleven days! (That’s the official date – you might see it in the wild a little sooner). It feels like this has come upon me very quickly, but really it’s been a long time since I decided to put the manuscript together back in the beginning of 2011, with the encouragement of my lovely publisher.

And in a few weeks, it will be officially launched at Gleebooks in Sydney by the marvellous Paddy O’Reilly, perhaps Australia’s finest, smartest and funniest crafter of short fiction. And yes, I do know how very lucky I am.

I’m happy to get back on the promotional/touring horse*, even if it almost overlaps with the last book (anything to get away from the novel, as usual). For Adelaide people, I will be at Adelaide Port Enfield Library, details below, next Thursday, hopefully with some sneaky advance copies for you all! (I’m not doing a bookshop launch because I only know about six people in Adelaide and one of them can’t read yet.)

It will be interesting to see if there’s much difference in peoples’ responses to the novels and the short story collection. I’ve already done my first interview on ABC RN – it was fun but I could have talked for about a week. It did make me wonder how often the conversation will be framed as a ‘how to.’ It bothers me a little, since it seems to argue that short fiction is only of use as a learning tool, and not as a literary form in itself. Patently untrue. Although I’m a novelist, I’m a writer first, and I dislike the ideology of the novel as primary literary form. I think it can actually be a very conservative form, with its neat narrative conclusions and soothing beginning-middle-endedness. Not necessarily, of course. But I’m all for a multiplicity of forms.

Interested to hear what other people think about this. It’s possible I don’t dislike the novel in general, just my work in progress in particular…

Please come along to one or the other event, and tell your friends. See you there!

*not stopping with the horse puns.


  1. wrote:

    I’m looking forward to the launch!
    It frustrates me that novels are regarded as the primary literary form. I love reading novels, but I equally love short stories, non-fiction, memoir, zines, blogs – writing in all its forms. As a predominately non-fiction writer who will probably never write a novel, I am still often asked about, or urged towards, writing a novel, as if this is the form in which I will finally prove myself as a writer.
    But I won’t rant about it. I look forward to your book and there are so many more horse puns to be made!

    Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  2. jenjen wrote:

    I wish you would rant about it VB! I don’t write much non-fiction, and I didn’t realise that people even compared it to novels, since it already seems to me more “serious” (whatever that means). Who does the urging, out of interest?

    I’ll go ahead and urge you *not* to write a novel, since I’d hate to be deprived of your brilliant non-fiction for long!

    Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink
  3. wrote:

    I noted in the Radio National interview that Michael Cathcart inferred that writing the short story is ‘practice’ for the novel. I love writing short stories, not because I don’t feel that I have it in me to write a novel, but I love the sense of completion in taking something from the everyday and thinking very carefully about the words I use and not resting until it has a feeling of completeness (even if that does leave the ending open). Saying it is practice, likens it to scale playing on the piano, rather than a beautiful minuet or dramatic Bartok. And yes, I am writing a novel, that I will get back to as soon as I get the anthology to the printer, but I can’t imagine a time when I would not write short stories.

    Look forward to reading the collection when it’s out and any non-fiction you write as well. I think that can take as much creativity to engage the reader (if not more) than writing a novel.

    Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink
  4. jenjen wrote:

    Robyne, I love the music analogy, especially since I kept thinking about this collection as a mixtape. And agree about that sense of completion. A short story stays whole more often in the memory, where I recall only snatches of novels (my own and other people’s). There’s something about the shape and size that’s just right.

    You could make a strong case that novels are good practice for short stories, too.

    Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink
  5. wrote:

    Thanks Jennifer,
    I like the idea of novel being pratice for short story. Interesting you thinking about your collection as a mix tape. I’m grapelling with ordering short stories for the collection. Some people read beginning to end and others dip in sometimes depending on time they have and then choose story of right length to finish in that time. Have seriously considered putting titles into hat and drawing them out to get the order. So many options – age of main character; alternating gender – female voice/male voice. Perhaps I should return to a favourite piece of music for clues…

    Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink
  6. Lauren wrote:

    Hi Jennifer,
    I am reading my way through The Rest is Weight right now. Love it (borrowed it from the Library where I work. Nabbed it as soon as it came in!) Wish I could go to the launch but I have a baby to look after. I’m writing a lot of short stories at the moment, you have inspired me! I found an article you wrote on Abc.net and that led me to your website and to The Rest is Weight. Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing? Good luck with everything. I’ll be keeping an eye out for your next one. L

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 5:54 am | Permalink