On Reading and Creativity

I've been testing the waters lately on working with a group of writers in forming a literary cooperative. My initial thoughts were to find thirteen writers that would each write and design two novellas each. The idea would be to create a website that would include industry news, new fiction releases every two weeks (on a pre-set schedule), author collaboration, and general discussion on writing.

Here's where the idea might hit a snag: I'd like to feature novellas on the site.

Frozen is garnering some kind words on Goodreads, but folks seem to want more content. It's a fair criticism, and length seems to be a real hurdle for many readers of novellas.

I find that interesting, as I really like to both read and write stories in that 15,000-20,000-word range. I think some of Stephen King's best work falls into that narrative size, and I actively seek out novellas when I'm looking for stories on Amazon.

But maybe I'm in the minority. When I thought up the idea for the cooperative, I did it with an eye on filling a niche. I have my favorite go-to sites for short stories and I still scour the library once a week for novels, but there really isn't a web repository for novellas.

I keep a reading journal, and my general habits seem to follow these trends:
  • 20-25 novels in a given year
  • 25+ collections/anthologies (this is where I depart from most readers, I think; I really like short stories)
  • Three or four nonfiction titles
  • 25+ cookbooks
  • Loads of online reading, and I get Shimmer and Fantasy & Science Fiction at the house  
I've read six novellas so far in 2012, with only The Odds coming in hardcopy. I was thinking that a website with dedicated original content in the novella format would be good for folks like me, but maybe there just aren't a lot of readers that like that storytelling size.

I like the idea of writers collaborating on projects, maybe writing stories that complement each other's universes. I like the idea of selling a subscription, which would be a book club of sorts. I think there would be a nice infusion of content in the novella category for the yearly awards cycles. 

I'm also energized to see where digital content delivery is going. I recently accepted an offer to join the Texts and Technology program at the University of Central Florida, and I'm very excited to begin classes in the fall. It's an applied programming degree, and I'll be honing my skills in design and programming while boosting my credentials to teach digital media in our new converged communication program at the college.

When I think about enriched texts, narrative assemblages, and all of the emerging digital platforms, I get pretty excited. The future of storytelling is bright and (as I sit here, typing away in a digital journal) pretty much unlimited for writers and creators...

If you have thoughts on the novella (one way or the other), I'd love to hear from you!

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