My Daily Shorty Year

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For one full year, I wrote a complete short story every single day.

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hacienda-day-1

This photo inspired my first published DS Year shorty, drafted 9/18/2012.*

My challenge began in Maine’s always long-awaited spring. As of mid-April 2012, I had not completed a short story for almost three years. I’d been doing plenty of writing, but I couldn’t seem to finish a fiction to save my soul, and the stakes began to feel just that high. Mostly to save myself before I hit the three-year anniversary of the last finished story (in July) and partly to honor the drive to get May established as Short Story Month, I dedicated myself to what I called my “Micro May Challenge” in May 2012.
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Purple

Used for 11/23 shorty, forthcoming at HCJ.*

Writer Friends, I must tell you: It was EASY! And incredibly fun. Within two weeks I was whispering to myself in dark places that I should do this for a year. I would be AWASH in drafted stories! And what would such severe discipline do to me, my process, my capacity for story?
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I raced into what I called my “June Story-Jam,” thrilled and very, very full of myself. By mid-June I decided I needed to blog about it.
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river-styx-cvr-89

My 12/5 shorty was published in this issue of River Styx.

I wanted to do a post for each story, recording a few “story facts,” so I set up this site and threw up back-dated posts for each of the stories I’d written so far, then came here almost every day to update my progress. Sometimes I wrote about a craft issue a story inspired, or I reviewed a book on craft, or marked a project milestone. The blog was much harder to sustain than the story-a-day practice, but the writer-geek in me insisted that I document this project in as much (fun) detail as I could stand.
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MARcover35_1.indd

My 3/18 shorty was published in this issue of MAR.

On April 30, 2013, I wrote my final story and put up my last post. It was a thrilling and exhausting year, and, yep, I was AWASH in material. What did such severe discipline do to me, my process, my capacity for story? It wore me out and made me a little nuts, but I recovered. I learned more about process, far more, than I learned in my MFA program, which is NOT a knock against my fantastic time at Vermont College of Fine Arts. And my capacity for story? That’s the best part: Always bigger, deeper, more full and rich.
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old-rag-rocks

Used this for my 4/26 shorty, published at CHEAP POP.*

Before my DS year was out, a few of my shorties had been accepted for publication, and I’ve published a few more since. But mostly in the three years since that crazy time, I’ve prioritized other areas of my life. Now I’m back to writing full-time, and I’m pulling out those old shorties, some of which I only half-remember, and diving into the joy of revision.
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summer-stories-cvrlg

My 10/17, 1/17, and 1/19 shorties are published in this Maine anthology.

A daily writing practice means, for me, coming home to this blog. “Daily Shorty” posts are still short enough but no longer daily. And they’re about Any and All Things Writing, with particular attention to resources for writers of very short fiction. Want to know where to submit your very short prose? On Market Mondays I spotlight magazines that are worthy of your micros and flashes. If you’re interested in contests, either for individual pieces or your fiction chapbooks, I’ve got a short list that can get you started. And once a month on Fiction Friday, I celebrate wonderful shorties I’ve discovered online—inspiration for your own good work.
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It was quite a year, and it’s still feeding my writing life. As I revise more of those shorty drafts, submit the ones ready for publication, and draft brand new work, I hope the energy of that year can inspire some of my fellow travelers. Words: That’s what we’ve got, that’s what we’re good for. Let’s get to it.
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*Photo/Image creditsPhoto of Jaral de Berrios in Guanajuato, Mexico, by Tomas Castelazo, 2/2011, picture of the day at Wikimedia Commons 8/28/2011. Image of purple by Booyabazooka 7/2006. Photo of rocks near the summit of Old Rag Mountain in Virginia, by Madison60 11/2009.

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