Dear authors of shorter fiction, a love note…

To those of you who write works with a word count of fewer than 40, 000 words, I appreciate you. You’ve made my life easier during this pandemic. You see, a pretty awful thing had happened to me last year, besides not seeing friends or family in person since before March 2020, besides having autistic burnout, and besides battling depression. I could not concentrate on words.

So, as an author and freelance editor, this was the total opposite of good. Words are my brain food. And I couldn’t absorb reading to save my life.

It felt horrible. Like being deprived nourishment of the mind. I had to postpone editing projects and suspend my own creative writing. Every time I picked up a novel, I couldn’t get past a few sentences. There was no way I could concentrate.

I took months off work and my writing.

But then, a cool thing happened. Last September, I felt ready to edit again. I could write some words, not many at a time, but that was perfectly fine. I had forward motion.

A novella fell into my lap, and because it wasn’t as long as most of the works I typically read, I felt motivated to take it on. Then, when I’d finished, I cried, “I read a thing!”

You writers of shorter fiction help me feel I achieve as I am battling through a low point. Don’t let anyone condescend you for not increasing your word count. There are people like me, low on spoons, who want desperately to read stories but who might also be overwhelmed at the thought of longer works. We need you. I know I do, at least.

Same goes for you short story and flash fiction authors. Do you even know how awesome you are?

And my hat goes off to novel writers who stay around the 40, 000 word mark, too. You give me life!

Anyway, long story short (huh, that was unintentional), you’re amazing. Keep writing your stories!

Love, Me

ID: Greyscale headshot of Cait Gordon, closeup, wearing a black shirt

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to be wise and think of others as we battle COVID-19!

Cait is also the author of humorous space opera novels Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers, and she is the co-editor of the Prix Aurora Award nominated anthology Nothing Without Us. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Her latest new adventure is hosting the In the ’Cosm podcast, which is really an excuse to gush over authors she admires.

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