Why I like Writing Short Stories by Jodi Thomas

Jodi Thomas has graciously agreed to fill in for Phyliss Miranda today. Let’s make her welcome!

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Thank you for having me. I’m happy to be back with everyone and talking about one of my loves. Writers often ask me why I write short stories. And, I have to say simply, “For the love of writing.”

But in truth, the benefits are far more than that. 

It all started one week before Christmas in ‘93. I’d just finished a novel and mailed it in. I was free and had a list. Shopping, making cookies, decorating, and cleaning house. I put in my first batch of cookies when the phone rang. It was my agent, who rarely called. “Jodi, I want you to write a short story. Think it over, come up with a few ideas and we’ll talk in January.” We talked about a big publishing house that was offering me the bottom slot in an anthology. She hung up. The cookies were burned. 

I scraped the cookie sheet and started again. As I put the next batch in, the phone rang again. “Hello, Jodi,” an editor at the big publishing house said. “What is your idea?”

Now, I’d had about ten minutes to think and so I said, “Two old men go to a train station in Texas the Christmas after the Civil War. They’ve ordered their boss, Holly, a mail-order husband for Christmas. One man steps off the train. He’s tall, dark, and handsome and he’s wearing a Union uniform. Before they can get to him, the man passes out drunk. Sam looks at Ben and says, “Great, we not only got her a Yankee, we got her a dead drunk Yankee.” 

“Sold,” the editor said, “Can you get it to us by January?” 

I hung up, took out the second batch of burned cookies and danced around the kitchen. I bought gift cards, let my two boys decorate, picked up Christmas cookies from the bakery and went back to my tiny study to work. 

A year later A HUSBAND FOR HOLLY hit the NYTimes thanks to Pat Potter the lead writer. 

And, I fell in love with writing short stories.

Here are three of my favorite short stories. I’m proud as can be of each one.