This guest post is by Jeff Elkins. Jeff is an author and the founder of of ShortFictionBreak.com, which is now open for new story submissions. Jeff is the author of the short story collection B-More Stories. You can follow Jeff on Twitter (@jffelkins).

A little over a year ago my writing changed. Before then I maintained a personal blog where I would occasionally rant about some wild idea or share a story about my kids. I didn’t think of myself as a “writer.” My blog was simply where I shared thoughts too long for Facebook.

Writing Myth Edgar Allan PoePhoto by Alvaro Tapia (Creative Commons)

Then on a whim one night, I decided to take the Story Cartel online course. As part of the course, participants were challenged to write a short story. I hammered out a fun tale that had been taking up space in my head for a few weeks. Immediately upon finishing the first draft, I was hooked and began to dream of what it might be like to be a “real writer.”

The Myth of the “Real Writer”

I envisioned luxurious hours sipping coffee and listening to Sinatra, while gleefully thumping out stories on my laptop. I believed there was no way writing a short story would ever take me more than an hour, two at the absolute most.

Also, in my imagination, there was no editing. I would never need to edit anything. Rather, I would rip the first draft out of my typewriter and hurl it over my shoulder to the frenzied mob of publishers pushing and shoving one another to see who could get their fingers on my brilliant ideas first. After savoring the page they would demand more, but I wouldn’t give it to them. In my mind I would instead respond in a 1930’s-Cagney-New-York accent, “Now listen here, see. I’ll give you more pages when I have time, see. You need to wait, see.” Then they would weep and cry in despair as I strutted away, offering only a confident, maniacal laugh in reply.

Needless to say, those writing myths were quickly debunked.

Debunking Writing Myths

I found a good short story takes me a week.

Any music with lyrics is a complete distraction.

I have to edit everything at least four or five times. Even after all those rewrites, I am rarely satisfied with the end result. Rather, I’m exhausted and can’t stand to look at the piece anymore. That is when I know it’s done.

I do drink a lot of coffee and often laugh manically, but not because there is a crowd of publishers clamoring for my next story.

Writers Need Relationships

I have been fortunate in one way. As I said, before I started writing seriously, I’d been blogging for over four years. When I finally did finish a story, I had had supportive community in place, ready to give me feedback and encouragement.

Most new fiction authors I’ve met do not have this. They slave away on a story and then have to work equally as hard to find a place to share it. With nowhere else to turn, they attempt to launch personal blogs, only to discover how difficult building a platform from scratch can be.

The web is noisy and increasingly designed to be skimmed. Building a strong readership from nothing is a little like prospecting for gold: you get a nugget here and there, but the struggle drives you to grow a long beard, wear overalls, and scream threats at strangers through a fog of grumpy-insanity.

A Place to Share Your Stories

I want to help. I want to give writers a place to post their stories while they build their own platforms. To this end, I and some friends of mine are launching a new blog. It’s called ShortFictionBreak.com. It is a space designed to give authors a place to share their work and receive feedback and encouragement.
We’ll be accepting submissions from anyone with a story. Send us your work and we will post it. There are no hidden strings attached. We aren’t making any money off the site. It is simply a digital space for you to share your fiction with the world.

If you like the idea of ShortFictionBreak.com and want to share your work routinely, we’ve got space for regular contributors. We’ll give you your own “author page” and when you publish your book, we’ll post a link to it so readers can find you.

To find out how to submit a story or become a contributor, head over to ShortFictionBreak.com here.

If you are a reader who likes our idea and wants to help us create an amazing space where writers can share their work, go over to ShortFictionBreak.com and subscribe so that when authors post their stories there is someone in the crowd listening. On the right hand side of the page, click the the button that says “Follow” to subscribe.

What writing myths did you believe when you first started writing? 

PRACTICE

Today’s practice is a two for one: First, make a writer’s day by sharing his/her work. Find a piece of writing (not your own) you think hasn’t gotten enough attention and share it across your social networking streams. Second, dig up a short story you’ve written but wish more people had read. Share it out across your platform or go to ShortFictionBreak.com and submit it to be posted there.

Jeff Elkins
Jeff Elkins
Jeff Elkins is a writer who lives Baltimore with his wife and five kids. If you enjoy his writing, he'd be honored if you would subscribe to his free monthly newsletter. All subscribers receive a free copy of Jeff's urban fantasy novella "The Window Washing Boy."