I began my writing career with a short story, lots of them in fact, though it was a long time before I had the temerity to send them into the big wide world of competitions and magazines. Creating a complete tale in a couple of thousand words is something I have never lost the passion for – and I hope I never shall. For a long time, however, rumours have been flying around about the demise of the short story and some of the magazines dedicated to them. I am happy to be able to say that from my perspective at least this is not the case. I have had no little success in the last eighteen months and while the market is difficult and the competition intense I think the outlook is healthy.

What about those rumours though? If they were true then where could I take my writing? I certainly wasn’t prepared to abandon it. Was it possible I had a book in me? I had never been one of those who maintained they would write a book ‘when I have the time’ as if sitting at a computer or using pen and pad was all it would take. You don’t know until you’ve tried, do you, and it was time for me to embark on the longer project. I have, as so many of us do, that first book ‘in the bottom drawer’, hidden away, never to see the light of day unless given a radical re-write. I learned a lot from it though; enough that after submission to the Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writers Scheme and some invaluable help from my reader I was offered a contract by Safkhet Publishing for my second.

I am at present waiting to receive the manuscript back for edits and rewrites and hope that Voyage of Desire will be available on line by the end of the year. In the meantime I am more than twenty thousand words into my next novel while at the same time revisiting what was my first love, the short story. I look upon both with equal affection and each as a special confection. There is a lot of talk about chocolate in writing circles – and in others as well I imagine.

trufflesIn my mind I liken the short story to a delicious truffle, I particularly like white chocolate but this preference would not cause me to refuse the other kind. It must not be rushed. The one or two mouthfuls are to be savoured, run over the tongue slowly, to be appreciated for every stimulus to the taste buds. In contrast the novel is like a Black Forest gateau; far too large to be partaken of in one go, although I have to admit there are many books I have read from beginning to end without putting them down. Sometimes a small piece will suffice; sometimes a huge chunk is the order of the day.

So where does all this leave me and my writing? I refer back to the title of this piece. Not just the truffle, not just the gateau. I can have both!



  1. Chocolate and writing – two of my favourite things! I too have been trying to make the transition from prolific short story writer to fledgling novelist. There are huge differences, but it’s lovely to have both going on side by side. Now shall I start on my wonderfully enticing giant Toblerone or finish the ones I don’t like very much that are still left at the bottom of my Christmas Quality Street tin?? There’s a time for both – and when it comes to writing I do believe in doing what takes your fancy at the time. My novel ticks along at its own pace but the ideas for short stories keep popping up too and can’t be ignored. The novel – and the Quality Street – will still be there waiting when the sudden irresistible sugar rush of that tempting Toblerone or story idea has been quenched!

    • I actually find it helps to have the choice, short story or novel/chocolate or MORE chocolate. Sometimes, when the book just isn’t working, it’s lovely to create something that is complete, that I can put behind me having enjoyed every moment, a bit like the truffle. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, the book just flows, not in huge chunks but in manageable but sizeable pieces. Don’t you just love writing!

      • A pleasure to read such a well written piece, Natalie. I’m not surprised you’ve had such success with your short stories and now you’re on your novelists’s way. One down, how many to go? Hang on to that love of writing. It enriches us all – and that’s without the chocolate.

  2. Natalie, I love this piece and I do agree you can have both. The short story is almost a quick fix when you need a boost while the novel takes longer to digest and fully enjoy and there are so many different types to enjoy. I really enjoy writing and using my creative muscles.

    • Thank you, Moya, and thank you, Elaine, for your comments. I have to admit that today was not a writing day but a while ago I did have a truffle. Hopefully the associated short story will come at tomorrow morning’s Dingbats writing group.

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