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.

2 thoughts on “Berit Ellingsen: Short Stories Are Like Gems”

  1. 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.

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