Saturday, April 24, 2010

The absolutely, wonderful, fantastical, life-saving Duotrope Digest

You'd be surprised at how many novelists find the time to turn out a short story or two.

Maybe you wouldn't.

I'm surprised. The Battered Suitcase receives a great deal of short stories and poetry by writers who have already turned out and published glowing, full-length novels. Between day jobs and kids and writing and publishing, I rarely find the brain space to create a short. And even when the ideas are flowing, there's rarely enough time to put them to paper. Throughout my teens and 20's, short stories were how I expressed myself, how I talked to myself, how I revealed my inner workings to the world. The world wasn't particularly interested, and thereafter I turned my composition skills to non-fiction: technical writing, journalism -- even ghost wrote a few books for an alternative health researcher. Interesting stuff, but not emotionally satisfying.

Short stories were my first literary love, and that's never faded. Maybe it's because I have the attention span of a dazed hedgehog, or maybe because I love the compactness of them, the brevity of a short clip from a life that can say so much with so little. My first and standing poetry love is the haiku, particularly those of Kobayahsi Issa; the Geoffrey Chaucer of Japan. It seems reasonable that my taste would follow into fiction.

A few years ago, when I decided I was strong and brave enough to face the fiction market again, my friend, Nathalie Boisard-Beudin turned me on to Duotrope Digest. Now Nathalie is a prolific writer, and her work reminds me of nothing more than drinking bubblegum absinthe, so free and sweet and head-lightening and dizzy, always dancing on the outskirts of what's expected. I'll never have her easy relationship with words and ideas, my brow furrows and sweats with every sentence, but Nathalie's are delivered with easy-breezy aplomb and trip from her pen like ... she's been drinking bubblegum absinthe.

Duotrope Digest is probably the singularly most useful website for short fiction writers online. There are plenty of websites that will give you listings of agents and editors for full-length novels, but Duotrope will help you find a home for your flash, your short and your novellas as well.

Personally, I love the short story and the novella. Maybe it's because I grew up in the MTV age, maybe it's because of the day job and the kids and all the other attention and energy zapping distractions of modern life.

If you're a reader, Duotrope Digest will also help you find online (and free) sources of great writing that will suit your own particular tastes.

Highly recommend you check it out. Try not to get sucked in to browsing all of the great sources only to be disgorged ten hours later when the light fails and the stomach begins to complain. That always happens to me.