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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Eating the elephant

There’s an old African saying, “You eat an elephant a mouthful at a time.” This means that no matter how large the task, if you start it and persevere, you can accomplish it. As this blog has a literary bent – i.e. it mainly pertains to reading and writing – then this saying can be applied to both these pursuits.

The Writer

For a writer, it’s a daunting idea to begin and then embark on writing an entire novel, comprising anywhere from 40,000 to 150,000 words. Yet it only takes that first step, that first word, followed by another, and so on.

Yes, some of the words and ideas committed to paper or screen might not survive as the work progresses, but that’s not important in the writing stage. It’s the doing that counts.

All you need is the imagination and the time; and anyone can make time, if they’re determined enough.

The Reader

The same goes for a book. Recently, I’ve read some thick tomes, over 800 pages. Those pages have been read quickly, fortunately, because the authors have the happy knack of making their narrative impel the reader to turn the page. Again, time is the issue.

A few years back (1995) I conceived of the not particularly original idea of publishing novellas, under my imprint Manatee Books. These were 92-page perfect-bound paperbacks, and I felt that they would appeal to busy people who have little time to read a normal-length novel. Alas, I was lacking in marketing skills and the Internet outlets were somewhat limited then, so after only four titles I shelved the idea. Interestingly, Penguin took the same route some years later, with several best-selling authors. Now, of course, novellas and even short stories can be purchased for e-readers, so the market has been transformed both in accessibility and reading-times.

This is a long-winded way of saying that short stories can offer a great deal of satisfaction. I was prompted to write this by a recent book review on (many thanks, jlbwye):

22 cases from Leon Cazador, private eye.: e-book here

By jlbwye

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase

Stories to keep you wanting more ... and more. Tales of reminiscence by a sleuth in sunny Spain which ensure you keep your eyes open until you've reached the end of one in time to let your head fall on the pillow - until morning. Thank you Nik, for making my nights unbroken and worth waiting for.
A book of short stories does that. You can indulge your reading bug and leave off after one story. Come back for more helpings another time. The flow isn’t interrupted by life or sleep. And, hopefully, there's that anticipation of another to read...

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