Yashodhara : What do you personally find most challenging about writing a short story?
Annie - The ending. I usually write short stories with a single image or character as a starting point. I begin to work my way through the story from this character's perspective, or an event I am trying to explain. But I often don't know what to do with this character and how to let go of her/him.
Altaf - Beginning with a sense of infiniteness, to let the reader settle in, and then quickly bringing the end into focus. This is always hard. Only when I have fully exhausted a theme in my head do I decide to make it a short story. Otherwise, it would be a novella or novel. Knowing that what one has begun must quickly end, this makes the whole exercise seem futile in a way. Conflicting impulses: the impulse to write, but also the impulse to stop writing.
Y : And on the other side, what do you like best about this format?
Annie - I like the freedom of being able to work on a small scale. It is like zooming into a small corner of a large painting, and realizing that you don't have to see the whole picture in order to make sense of it.
Altaf - I like that I can put a short story at the service of a larger theme. I try to avoid writing random stories in isolation. This way, if I ever decide to throw these shorts together, they can read like a coherent whole.