I am not going to lie, I have asked myself that questions a few times since I started writing.
The arguments against a writer focusing much of their writing energy on short stories are plentiful:
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I could fill a blog with all the different things I've read and heard about trying to break in as an author of short stories. It just isn't done anymore. I'll stop, though, before I talk myself out of it.
The reality for me is that both my writing and reading time are at a premium. I have two young children and a busy life (not to mention a full-time job that pays the bills). There are limited opportunities to write, and I have struggled with piecing together longer-form writing when I have to stop frequently. I lose my momentum and the project sits untouched.
But I realized that I am not alone in the issues I face. In today's world, it seems more likely that fewer and fewer people have the time (or can make the time) to sit and read novel after novel. It takes a commitment to get to that point in the hustle and bustle of life in this century.
I can't tell you how many times, in reading a book in the past few years, that I've reached a point where I either want to stop or should stop, and flip ahead to see where the next chapter starts, then groan in disapproval at trying to make it through another five or six pages. I end up not enjoying the story because I forget important elements of the story due to all of the stopping and starting, and find myself disoriented when I pick up the book and start reading again.
So why do I bother with short stories?
Because I want to fill a niche, helping people like me who used to love to read but find they have almost no time for anymore. I want to provide quick, bite-sized entertainment that you can read from start to stop in 10 to 15 minutes.
I remember when I was young, we would read short stories in Read Magazine at school. They were quick reads that packed a wallop, usually pretty famous stories such as "Murder in the Rue Morgue" or "The Lottery". I remember more about those stories, nearly 30 years removed from them, than I do about the most recent novel I've read. Now those kind of stories are all but impossible to find.
The writing community I've encountered on Twitter are a very kind and helpful group, but most are focused on Young Adult, particularly in the fantasy genre. Almost all of them are focused on novels, because big publishers are more apt to spend $1 million on a 100,000 writers of YA Fantasy looking for the next Harry Potter than they are in spending $100 on a really good, self-contained short story. It can't be made into a franchise, so it is overlooked.
I feel that readers are the victims here, especially if you're not into the genres being pushed by major publishers. I love historical fiction, non-fiction and sci-fi (the last of which does get a little more love than the first two). Finding any good short story is a bit of a chore, finding good ones in the genres I enjoy are nearly impossible. I usually go and reread my favorites from Ambrose Bierce, Edgar Allen Poe, O. Henry and others, because finding short stories is a time investment in and of itself.
So have a look around my site. I'm offering some short stories for free. I'm offering others for sale on Amazon (for now). There's this blog, and I have a fun blog called "Randos" that offers really quick (and often humorous) reads that might only take a couple of minutes. Hopefully I fill the niche, even a little.