Rebecca Rosenblum on the Difference Between Short Story and Novel Writing

From October 20—22, 2017, the Stratford Writers Festival will take over Stratford, Ontario, as some of Canada’s top literary and creative talents come together for this unique three-day festival. With the festival rapidly approaching, we caught up with attending author Rebecca Rosenblum to ask her a few questions about her latest projects, and why literary festivals are important to the Canadian artistic community.

To hear more from Rebecca, click here to purchase tickets to her upcoming Stratford Writers Festival panel entitled Writing with Emotion with authors Jennifer Robson and Deborah Cooke, and moderated by the Globe and Mail’s Mark Medley.

In their review of So Much Love, the Globe and Mail wrote that “This is a book about love–how it can rip you apart, how it can fix you back up, and the colossal damage its absence can inflict.” In your opinion, is love the most powerful emotion humans can feel? 

I don’t know about the most, but love is incredibly powerful and much more various than the rom-coms and radio ballads give it credit for. Love can be this animating force that pushes us towards our best and worst selves—it can be something that we don’t know what to do with, or we don’t know how to use well, or it can be the thing that empowers us to do the most important thing in our lives. Like almost everything, love’s power lies in one’s use of it.

As a short story author, what is the difference between writing short stories and a novel?

An incredible amount, actually. If you believe in structure—and I do—thinking through the structure of a short story can be done in a few weeks, and it is challenging, for sure, but you are working with few enough pages that you can skim them all quickly if you are looking for that one hinge point, and you can hold all the information in your mind. With a novel, all that goes out the window. I had to write everything down and then look at it all to even start trying to structure things in a way a reader could understand, and it was all too easy to lose track of one star in a constellation of information when there were so many of them. I think probably the answer is for a novelist to be more methodical and organized than a short-story writer, but I wasn’t, so a lot fell on my brilliant editor, Anita Chong. We had to go back through the book looking for gaps—and there were huge ones—and fill them in, reorder, find contradictions, and sort out what had gone wrong. It was a staggering, humbling, wildly inefficient process. I’m impressed with myself, and so grateful to Anita, but I’m going to try to tighten up the process for next time!

Why do you feel it’s important to meet readers at events such as the Stratford Writers Festival?

Well, I published the book for a reason, and the reason was to share these thoughts and ideas and characters and imaginings with readers—and I am so very curious to know what they think. Once the book leaves the publisher’s warehouse, it belongs to readers, and it’s theirs to interpret however they see fit…but I love hearing how those interpretations go. It can be illuminating for me as a writer to hear how the book reads without all the baggage I bring to it. There’s also the wonderfulness of all the other authors at these festivals—it’s a chance for me to come out of my cave and hear readings and panels from so many folks I’ve often long admired or been hearing about through the grapevine but not yet met in the flesh—and to buy books! It’s a great opportunity to soak up readings and book chat!

What is your favourite part about attending writers festivals or literary events?

Pretty much everything I mentioned in #3. Also, there’s usually some pretty good snacks!

Are you working on any projects right now?

I am working on a new book but very slowly. No complaints here, but promoting So Much Love takes time and takes priority right now, and I’m happy enough to be out in the world talking about this project that I’m so proud of. But also, the new novel is a family story and while not exactly a romp, has some lighter moments compared to So Much Love. It’s a father-daughter story, and I enjoy moving back and forth between those perspectives. I’m in the very early stages so not much has gone wrong yet; always a good place to be!


To hear more, don’t miss Rebecca’s panel entitled Writing with Emotion on Saturday, October 21, 2017, at 1:30 pm at the Stratford Writers Festival. See you there!

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Do you think love is the most powerful emotion humans can feel?