Lately I've been really into long walks in the woods. I live on a small, forested, island in the center of the Puget Sound and there are a lot of cool nature reserves and parks that have trails that stretch and weave for miles.
The woods here consist of evergreens, typically covered with moss on the side the sun doesn't hit. The underbrush is made up of ferns and huckleberry bushes, and the occasional stinging nettle patch wherever there is enough sun filtering through the branches overhead. I used to spend hours with friends cutting down stinging nettles pretending they were orcs, like in Lord of The Rings, or foot soldiers, like in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But those days are well behind me now. In middle school I even roamed the woods with friends pretending we were catching Pokemon. Now you can use a phone to do that for you. It was more fun with your imagination.
When I go back through the trails that I use to frequent so often, there's a strange sadness that takes hold of me. I find myself thinking about how many times I walked past this tree, or ran around this bend of trail. Is that fern the same fern that was there in my childhood? The trees are certainly the same trees. Do they remember me? If I put my hand on that gnarled bark will they know that I once put my hand in the same place twenty years ago, as a child?
I find myself so close to the year 30, so is this a normal reminiscence of time lost, or past? In ten more years will I look back on my twenties and walk those trails again and ask myself if those are the same ferns I passed before? Or is there a new home for me in the world that isn't linked to a childhood long past gone? When I take a step upon that other road, will it feel the same?--surely not, but I believe it will still lead me to the place I'd like to be.
As a writer, and as a reader, I find myself drawn so much more to longer tales than short stories. This is not unique of course. Short story fans are a niche that is large, but novels I feel to be a much more thorough art form.
This is not to say I haven't read short stories that have changed me as a person, and as a writer. I have read some short stories that have changed the way in which I see fiction--both plot arc and character development. But there's something that tells me the short story form is much more geared toward teaching people about itself rather than teaching people about the longer form.
A novel, for me, is some type of investment. While the short story has the advantage of not being a time strain on the reader, it also doesn't get the emotional investment from that person as well. It only gets the interest. But the short story is not long enough to warrant an emotional investment, it is not long enough for a reader to truly know the the characters. I was once told, that if a novel is a window the reader looks through on to the character's life, then a short story only allows you to peak through the key hole.
This gives you limited context for the story. But it also lets the reader accept things for what it is instead of grasping for answers in a larger piece. But my favorite part of reading is finding characters I relate too. And typically I don't find that in short form work. I can, and have, but most short stories are more about a feeling or idea than the characters.
Tools and Supplies:
Four longish pieces of wood
two Large barrels
Helmet that encloses the face
Oxygen tank (or substitute)
Rope or twine
Step one: Hammer the longish pieces of wood onto the sides of the pallet. They should all face the same way.
Step two: Lash the barrels to the sides of the pallet with your rope or twine.
Step three: Nail the office chair to the top side of the pallet (can be tricky.)
Step four: Put on track suite and helmet, or other space appropriate uniform.
Step five: Use duct tape to secure ankles, wrists, and neck so air doesn't leak from where suit meet boots, gloves, and head.
Step six: Enable joy stick near office chair/captains chair.
Step seven: Add gas to barrels.
Step eight: Enlist younger sister as co-pilot.
Step nine: Tell younger-sister-co-pilot, girls can breath in outer space, only boys can't, it will be fine.
Step Ten: Initiate launch sequence.
Blast off. We have ignition.
Step eleven: Enter orbit.
Step twelve: Engage thrusters.
Step thirteen: Be patient.
Step fourteen: Land on Proxima b.
Step fifteen: Establish if Proxima b can support human life.
Step sixteen: Leave Proxima b.
Step seventeen: Return to Earth.
Step eighteen: Meet fans, like the president, Elon Musk, and Taylor Swift.
Step nineteen: Take a selfie with these people.
Step twenty: Go home. Mom will probably have lunch ready by then.