Short Story Struggle

Growing up, I was that kid who read books above my grade level. I wasn’t interested in a five page story book; I wanted the chapter book. From then on, I only craved the book that had a lot of pages. I wanted to stick with one story and read about the beginning, middle, and the end. For this reason, I have struggled to find an interesting collection of short stories. (It’s also hard to find a writer who can write a short story as well as my favorite, Edgar Allen Poe, but that’s another topic.)

In my writing class, we are currently reading two collections of short stories: one is called Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson and the other is What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg. When I’m reading the first collection, I’m forcing myself to read until the end. I’m not interested until half-way through the story and somehow, at the end I’m always left with confusion. Part of me wants to reread so that I can understand it and the other part of me does NOT want to go through that roller coaster of emotions again. Then I move onto the second collection I mentioned. The words draw me in and keep me turning the page. I suddenly wonder why can’t other short stories be like this; why they can’t make me feel as if my heart is heavier. To make a short story shorter, after reading van den Berg’s work, I understand the appeal of short stories. I still wish that I could continue on the character’s journey after the short story ends but I don’t see that as a frustration. In truth, it means the writer did a perfect job of making the character come to life.

Now, I’m forced to create my own short story. In the end, I hope to make my short story come alive for the reader like van den Berg was able to do for me. It’s been a while since I wrote something that didn’t relate to an academic topic. It’s an intimating fact that my creative muscles are out of shape but with a few breaks to reread van den Berg’s collection for inspiration, I think I’ll be able to write what I want.