Misha Burnett on Small Words [Part 2]

How did you come up with the ideas for these stories?

More and more in recent years I have been writing to order. The indie short fiction market has expanded considerably since I first started concentrating on short stories. Also my own efforts at networking have paid off to the point where I have a business relationship with a number of indie publishers.

Better than half of these stories were written in response to particular calls for fiction. Even in cases where the call didn’t specify a particular theme, I tailored the story to what I knew of a particular editor’s tastes.

Not always successfully, I might add. Several of the stories were rejected by the markets that I wrote them for. That doesn’t bother me, since I knew that I would be putting out another collection eventually and the story would find a home there, if nowhere else.

It’s a big help to a short fiction writer to have the constraints of a particular call for submissions to work within, however. Often when I find myself staring at a blank document with no idea of what to put on it I search for “short story calls for submission” and see what the internet can suggest to me.

Even when (as is often the case) it turns out the market is one that I where I don’t intend to submit, the theme of the submission call will spark something in my head.

My output over the past two years has been low, and the career uncertainty I mentioned last time is a large part of that, as well as some annoying health issues. I don’t find that I am gripped by an idea that shouts “Write Me!” as often as I used to be. So I go out looking for ideas—something that I never had to do until recently. But I’ve learned that once you start looking, they are all around.

Small Worlds is on Kickstarter through the month of May! Don’t forget, you can also get the audiobook of An Atlas of Bad Roads early as a backer.


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