Novella Time

Document generated by physiokinetic impact print, ie, manual typewriter

I have begun writing a novella, that odd in-between genre, much too long to be a short story, but rarely long enough to be called a novel in most literary circles. I have written four novels of between 60,000 and 100,000 words, the latter two of which I am shopping around to trade publishers lately. (I’ve realized I don’t have the financial means to publicize a self-published novel, even a good one.) And I’ve written about eighty short stories in the last few years, half of which have been published in literary journals so far. I do have one long short story that no one seems to want, though I’ve revised and reread it and it does look good. That there’s no niche for it may be part of the problem.

But there is a niche for novellas, and, though for a long time I considered myself “against” them in some vague way, I’ve come to realize that many of the books I’ve enjoyed in recent years have in fact been novellas, and damned good ones. Contemporary work by writers such as Patrick Modiano and Yasmina Reza in French, and Jenny Offill and Claire-Louise Bennett in English, not to mention one of my favorites, classic Belgian writer Georges Simenon. Others as well.

So I figure to try it out. As a short story writer, I appreciate compactness of form; as a novelist, I appreciate a broader landscape in which to let the characters play out their fates. Not every theme fits into a short story or can fill out a novel, and I realized this week that I had such a theme.

So, with plenty of short stories to keep my marketing arm (that’s the left one) busy for a while, I have plunged back into a longer form.

Of course the story itself will tell me how long it needs to be, but I’m confident I can tell this one in 40,000 words more or less. Working title is “Breathe,” though we’ll see.

You’ll know what happens nearly as soon as I do.

Rick Risemberg