Writers on Writing: The Art of the Short Story

By Maurice A. Lee | Go to book overview

What Comes Next: Women Writing
Women in Contemporary Short
Fiction

Kelly Cherry

Are there trends in contemporary short fiction by women? Undoubtedly. But exactly what those trends are may be almost impossible to say, or at least very difficult for a woman writer to say, the same way it is difficult for anyone to fathom, in a mirror, the visual impression her or his own face makes. You look into a mirror, and you see the person you once were, or the person you imagine others think you are, or the person you have never been but wished to be, or that person you have, always, recognized yourself as being and yet hoped against hope no one else could see. You almost never see who you are now, today, this stranger scrutinizing a reflection as if it might be, somehow, more real than the self engaged in reflecting.

One thing, however, is clear, does offer itself up to reflection: The first thing to be said about women writers of short fiction in the United States today is that there are more of them than there were. There are many more than there were even just a short while ago. This is partly because there are more short-story writers of both sexes than there used to be. Our academic system of undergraduate English majors with a creative-writing emphasis followed by Master of Fine Arts programs utilizing the workshop method of analysis and criticism has contributed to a mushrooming (if not a flowering) of short fiction. Short stories are, after all, short; they can be read and discussed in the span of a two- or three-hour workshop as novels cannot. The short-story form may daunt the novice writer less than does the novel,

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