Ling Ma on Writing Short Stories: “You Can Let Them Simmer for Years”
In Conversation with Alex Higley and Lindsay Hunter on I'm a Writer But
Welcome to I’m a Writer But, where two writers-and talk to other writers-and about their work, their lives, their other work, the stuff that takes up any free time they have, all the stuff they’re not able to get to, and the ways in which any of us get anything done. Plus: book recommendations, bad jokes, okay jokes, despair, joy, and anything else we’ve got going on that week. Hosted by Lindsay Hunter and Alex Higley.
In this episode, Ling Ma talks to us about her story collection, Bliss Montage, as well as starting from scratch, editing in a postpartum haze, fragrances, and more!
From the episode:
Ling Ma: The stories I sent in were a partial collection, but I ended up only keeping two of them, “Yeti Lovemaking” and “Los Angeles,” which were the two oldest stories in the collection. And then I wrote the other stories from scratch for the collection. I don’t know why I did it that way, because I think stories are really hard to write.
You kind of have to let them simmer. You can let them simmer for years. I think with a novel it’s better to draft quickly, but with stories it’s just not the same process. So I wrote all these stories for the collection. It was hard. It was harder than writing the novel. It’s troubleshooting several sets of problems rather than one set of problems.
Ling Ma is a writer hailing from Fujian, Utah, and Kansas. She wrote the novel Severance and, more recently, the story collection Bliss Montage, both published by FSG. She lives in Chicago with her family.