Deirdre Shanahan was an early member of LWC and we were delighted to hear that one of her stories has been included in The Best of British Short Stories 2017, published by Salt Publishing and edited Nicholas Royle. Here she writes about the short story writing process.
My story, ‘The Wind Calling’ in The Best of British Short Stories 2017
Having a story published means it gets to see daylight. It lives. More than in the head. So I was delighted when the editor of ‘The Best of British Short Stories 2017,’ asked if he could include one of my stories in the anthology. ‘The Best of British Short Stories,’ comes out annually and I had known it as quite a seminal publication.
I believe a short story is not just a short piece of writing. Neither does it have to be compartmentalised into a 3 part conventional story structure. But a story has to have shape and a sense of movement. I think of them as forms where two sometimes opposing or differing elements combine in their own alchemy for a unique creation. There is something else at work beneath the surface of words and sentences. Al though of course, every word counts and works towards the entire whole of the form. But you have to be careful not to ‘overwork’ the notion of word counts. That is not what a story is about.
A story should ‘take off’ and work at a metaphorical level with its own logic. It may well move forward and usually that is what we want, but it also moves beneath, working on a subterranean level of images. A story might offer some kind of illumination by which I mean the reader senses, ‘Ah, that is what it is like to live.’ or ‘That is what it is like to be in that situation or with those people / in that place / at that time.’
I love writing and reading stories. They repay re-reading and can nourish the mind more than their size would suggest. They offer up more than is apparent but beware as the best draw you in and won`t leave you alone but linger, preying on thoughts and associations long after you have put down the book.