I like to go for a certain over-the-top opulence when naming the drone pieces whereas the song titles are all about concision, I guess. I mean, if I were truly a purist, I'd call things, "Long Piece #27" or "Newest Fast Song", but I enjoy titling and it is helpful at rehearsals or when making set-lists.
The novella is at once the most elegant and demanding form: a writer must balance the looseness of a novel with the concision of a short story, a feat that only the bravest and most talented of us can manage. In Brazil, Jesse Lee Kercheval proves, yet again, that she is exactly the right writer for the job. A wild American picaresque, Brazil snaps along briskly, yet feels full-fleshed, and brims with a sly wit and grace.
The first piece of advice I would give any writer is to read a lot and to read widely. Firstly you start to realize what's out there and what isn't out there. Publishers are looking for stories that haven't been told before. Reading other people can also improve your own writing. I love reading poetry even though I wouldn't think of writing it. A great poet can say in two lines what it takes me a whole novel to express. If I've learned from any kind of writing, it's poetry - and the lesson is concision. What can you leave out and the reader will still get the message?
Let's press ahead a little further by sketching out a few variations among short shorts: ONE THRUST OF INCIDENT. (Examples: Paz, Mishima, Shalamov, Babel, W. C. Williams.) In these short shorts the time span is extremely brief, a few hours, maybe even a few minutes: Life is grasped in symbolic compression. One might say that these short shorts constitute epiphanies (climactic moments of high grace or realization) that have been tom out of their contexts. You have to supply the contexts yourself, since if the contexts were there, they'd no longer be short shorts. LIFE ROLLED UP. (Examples: Tolstoy's 'Alyosha the Pot, ' Verga's 'The Wolf, ' D. H. Lawrence's 'A Sick Collier.') In these you get the illusion of sustained narrative, since they deal with lives over an extended period of time; but actually these lives are so compressed into typicality and paradigm, the result seems very much like a single incident. Verga's 'Wolf' cannot but repeat her passions, Tolstoy's Alyosha his passivity. Themes of obsession work especially well in this kind of short short. SNAP-SHOT OR SINGLE FRAME. (Examples: Garda Marquez, Boll, Katherine Anne Porter.) In these we have no depicted event or incident, only an interior monologue or flow of memory. A voice speaks, as it were, into the air. A mind is revealed in cross-section - and the cut is rapid. One would guess that this is the hardest kind of short short to write: There are many pitfalls such as tiresome repetition, being locked into a single voice, etc. LIKE A FABLE. (Examples: Kafka, Keller, von Kleist, Tolstoy's 'Three Hermits.') Through its very concision, this kind of short short moves past realism. We are prodded into the fabulous, the strange, the spooky. To write this kind of fable-like short short, the writer needs a supreme self-confidence: The net of illusion can be cast only once. When we read such fable-like miniatures, we are prompted to speculate about significance, teased into shadowy parallels or semi allegories. There are also, however, some fables so beautifully complete (for instance Kafka's 'First Sorrow') that we find ourselves entirely content with the portrayed surface and may even take a certain pleasure in refusing interpretation. ("Introduction")