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Berit Ellingsen: Short Stories Are Like Gems

Gems IV

photo credit: fdecomite via flickr

I once asked a friend of mine, when we were both graduate students in science and struggling in the lab with our thesis experiments, what her dream job was.

“Gemologist,” she said, and I could hear in her voice what a beautiful but seemingly unattainable dream that was. Right away I felt that my own choice of dream job lacked imagination, and today I can’t even remember what I said.

Like gems, short stories go against modern culture’s erroneous belief that bigger is better, more means more value, and the longer something lasts, the more memorable it is.

For me, short stories are like gems. They are grown under specific conditions, which usually include some kind of pressure.  Then they are carefully collected and prepared and lovingly cut into precise planes and angles before they are smoothed and polished into an object that catches and amplifies its surroundings, despite its small size.  Like gems, short stories go against modern culture’s erroneous belief that bigger is better, more means more value, and the longer something lasts, the more memorable it is.

Moreover, a short story doesn’t take less time or effort to write than a longer work. Because the fewer words there are, the more important it is that each word is, as they say in science, both necessary and sufficient.

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About Berit Ellingsen

Berit Ellingsen's novel Not Dark Yet, will be released by Two Dollar Radio in November 2015. She is the author of Beneath the Liquid Skin (firthFORTH Books) and Une Ville Vide (PublieMonde). Her work appears in Smokelong Quartery, Unstuck, Litro, and elsewhere, and her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the British Science Fiction Award. Berit divides her time between Norway and Svalbard in the Arctic. She can be found at @BeritEllingsen and http://beritellingsen.com.

2 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Chris
    June 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Succinctly put and beautifully expressed. The gem is the perfect metaphor for the short story. Your grad student friend wished to become a gemologist, and you have become one, with your well-cut and polished stories.

    • Berit Ellingsen
      June 2, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

      That is fantastically kind of you to say, Chris! 🙂

      Thank you so much!