The idea of writing a short stories collection and publishing it as an indie author was a consequence of my creative frustration after holding back my dreams for a decade paired with the physical and mental exhaustion of being a newbie parent.
I had written only a handful of short stories throughout the past ten years, and every single one of them was written during a difficult time of life in general. You might think now that I should have read the signs sooner, but there’s a very apt quote that life can only be understood in hindsight, but it has to be lived forward. For me, this means that I’ve always had the need and desire to write stories myself after devouring books on a serial basis. It was only buried so deep that it would always be the first thing to give whenever my to-do list would get too long, but in times of emotional upheaval I would always come back to writing.
The first time I had any sort of external success with my writing was almost seven years ago, when the ERASMUS Programme was celebrating 20 years in Austria, and sent out a call for a short story to all ERASMUS alumni. Just in that same year, I had written “Galway Girl” during my exchange semester in Denmark. My boyfriend, now my husband, begged me to write for it, no matter if it were then selected to be published in a booklet or not. All things good that have ever happened to me have been either connected to my mother, or my husband. Again, something that can only be understood in hindsight, but this is another story alltogether. Incredibly, my submission to this call for short stories was in fact selected to be printed with 30 other stories out of approximately 300 submissions. There was a big gala I was invited to and that I can still remember vividly. The jury had read my story and liked it enough to select it. I don’t know how public this booklet turned out to be, but it meant the world to me.
Still, I quickly buried my writing practice once I had a job after graduation. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I am coming to terms with it that it was a necessary process for me to go through until I could come out a writer on the other end. Nowadays, I don’t have more than two hours a day to myself that I usually carve out of my day by sleeping less. I’m working almost full-time and have a toddler at home. These very tight boundaries have had such a positive effect on my creativity, that now I am actually writing more than ever before. If you would like to know how I got there, please read the article I wrote for Unread in Issue 13 (https://e.issuu.com/embed.html#30838006/64787084).
So what does this have to do with my first book “Vienna in Short Stories”? Because of all those years of frustration, hard work and heart ache that I had lived before I allowed myself to be a writer, I wanted it to be a collection with a common theme running through it about old and young people and how they interact. During writing the first few stories, however, I started to shift to the theme of Vienna and food as I felt better while writing and connecting the stories through their location. The stories “Parcel for Two” and “Kaiserschmarren for No Cat Lady” still relate a little to my original theme. I genuinely feel that I am drawn to and maybe even more talented at writing about old souls, if you will, who have lived, have regrets and unfulfilled dreams.
For my first book, especially, I wanted to write in as many different genres as I could. This is why you have a fable, a detective story and even a love story in it. When, if not now, can I take the chance to tap into so many different genres? I think this makes a collection of stories also more interesting. Where the common theme makes them more alike, the different story writing styles make them unique.
As you can see, this first book is a breakthrough on so many levels for me that its commercial success is welcome, of course, but not the most important aspect of it.
Keep your eyes peeled for another post coming next Advent Sunday on how I wrote “Vienna in Short Stories”.