How difficult is it to write a short story?

 

I was impressed by an interview with the writer Edith Pearlman published on the excellent University of North Carolina Lookout site.

In it, in response to the question ‘What is your creative process?’ she said:

Each short story takes several weeks (five days a week, about four hours a day) to write, in many, many drafts, all on the typewriter. The draft then marinates in a drawer while I work on the next story or piece. The marinated story finally gets withdrawn, re-revised, typed at last into a word processor, and presented to my dear friend, colleague and ruthless reader Rose Moss, who usually sends it back to the typewriter for another few weeks of revision. So each story takes about a month and a half in total time.

When asked for her advice for  new and emerging fiction writers, she added:
Revise. Revise each story from beginning to end at least three times. When I say revise I mean rewrite completely.

Although reading sage advice about the process doesn’t in itself help the quality of the output, I found this reassuring ammunition against those who imply that short-story writing is a quick and simple process…

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