I'm working on edits for my two forthcoming flash in CRAFT (and a craft essay on plot to go with them) as well as a new essay right now, but I'm always thinking about where THE LUNATICS' BALL is going, and whether I can pull it together.
I've read Sarah Fawn Montgomery's combined memoir/history of Big Pharma, so I was interested to read her account in ESSAY DAILY of expectations from publishers and fellow students in creative writing workshops: "Early big five publishers were interested in my memoir, but only if I could revise the narrative in a way that offered redemption. While publishers were initially interested in the research—everything from the history of asylums and lobotomies to the chemical science behind contemporary psychopharmaceuticals—they worried this might overwhelm readers. 'What readers want is hope,' an editor said of about my discussion of steadily increasing mental illness rates in the United States despite the increasing number of medications. Recovery was what most publishers thought would sell, and while I agreed, it simply wasn’t possible to revise my life."
Nancy Au, a flash and fiction writer whose work I admire, discusses invisibilities such as her bipolar disorder and the role they play in her work in a recent essay in CRAFT.
"What is the point?" a member of my writing group asked about my draft-in-progress on the history of lobotomies. I often feel inadequate to the task, but I know that bringing back the lost lives of the women I'm writing about is important. Every day I try to "fail better."
I was glad to be asked to do an advance blurb for Cathy Ulrich's wonderful forthcoming book with Okay Donkey Press. Here it is: "A babysitter, a homecoming queen, a teacher, a politician, a jogger. A mother, a daughter, a roommate, a lover. Maybe yours. Maybe you. The murdered girls and women in GHOSTS OF YOU disappear without warning, leaving an absence behind that can never be filled. They’re remembered as something different than they were, their names forgotten. In a dazzling, richly detailed series of thirty-one second-person narratives addressed to ghostly girls and women, Cathy Ulrich unearths their buried lives and the afterlives of those around them. Every single one of them becomes unforgettable. In a culture increasingly inured to violence against women, at a time when women are being systematically disempowered, their bodies and voices erased, stories like these take on particular urgency and importance. GHOSTS OF YOU will haunt you. Don’t miss this stunning debut collection." It's available for preorder here.
Working on the gazillionth draft of my piece on lobotomies for THE LUNATICS' BALL. I was excited to finally find more about Naomi Ginsberg's childhood (in Ed Sanders' poem-biography about Allen Ginsberg), but I'm still finding it hard to get this piece right. Frustrated that my San Francisco writing group keeps flaking out and failing to meet.
So thrilled to learn that my flash essay "Dear Maddy" has been nominated for Best of the Net by THE SUNLIGHT PRESS. Big big thanks to editors Rudri Patel and Beth Burrell.
Congratulations to the other nominees (some whose work I know well, such as Cathy Ulrich and Sabrina Hicks). Here's the full announcement.
It’s always exciting to have your work solicited, and while it doesn’t always work out, CAUSTIC FROLIC at NYU loved “Her Story” and published it in their 2019 annual issue. Big, big thanks to senior fiction editor Jacob Anthony Moniz, whom I met when he was working at CATAMARAN LITERARY READER in Santa Cruz.
The story is about the different stories we tell ourselves and others to explain the past, in this case the different stories a character on the brink of a marriage proposal tells herself about her first marriage. I never did come up with a better title than “Her Story.”
I publish a lot online, so it's fun to get a print journal in the mail. Especially when it’s beautifully produced like CAUSTIC FROLIC, with great cover art (embroidery by Sydney Kleinrock).
It's also exciting to get paid for a story, which is happening more often than it used to, but still doesn't happen often. ($100 this time.)
A magazine I would really like to have gotten into said they'd been about to accept "Her Story" when I withdrew it after CAUSTIC FROLIC accepted it. They rejected the next story I sent them, so that was disappointing. Submissions require so much energy. I just read an article by Alison Kinney in LONGREADS about the physical and emotional effects of rejection, and it's a wonder that writers can function at all.
I feel stymied by THE LUNATICS' BALL, but oddly encouraged by this from Amy Tan, posted by Dinty W. Moore on twitter today: "Only when I finish the book can I go back to the beginning and write in the voice of all that happened."
I have a new flash fiction out in the UK-based zine ELLIPSIS today. Big thanks to Steve Campbell for believing in “Waking Up Late,” and to Kathy Fish for a prompt that elicited my fictional evocation of the free-floating anxiety of the times we live in. By strange coincidence, the only other flash I’ve written about the current administration came out in ELLIPSIS. When I wrote “Happy Hour at the Eagle Bar & Grill” a couple of years ago, I believed that the whole country was drawing together and impeachment was in the air. Time has proven me very wrong.
A cool surprise today! THE NASIONA has done a podcast on daughterhood that features four essays, including my short essay "My Mother's Suitcases": Episode 9, "On Daughterhood."
Here's what they say about "My Mother's Suitcases": "Jacqueline Doyle juggles feelings of remorse and acrimony for her mother, during a strained phone conversation with her. This piece is an incisive examination of the ways mothers and daughters often engage in exchanges fraught with tension, exchanges that sometimes take on a more bittersweet connotation, with the benefit of retrospection and indulgence."
Many thanks to editors Aïcha Martine Thiam and Julián Esteban Torres López!
Back in February, Elizabeth Foulke, the new editor at the annual print journal OCEAN STATE REVIEW, contacted me to say they wanted to start posting online content, including my story "The Snows of Yesteryear" (solicited for their current issue by their previous editor, Charles Kell). I said sure, great and forgot about it. I missed their Facebook post with my story last month.
Here's the online post of "The Snows of Yesteryear" from OCEAN STATE REVIEW. It turns on one of my obsessions, the significance and afterlife of our stuff. Loved the cover of the magazine, and it was fun getting an elegant print journal in the mail.
Speaking of print journals, I'm waiting for F(R)ICTION and I"m not sure why I thought issue 14 would be published on August 15, since there's no sign of it on social media. Curious about their cover, since they do a lot of interesting art (inside the journal too). Maybe it's their new banner on Facebook (below). Curious about CAUSTIC FROLIC too, which their editor Jacob Anthony Moniz sent to me on August 12. Not here yet.
Lots of nice comments and retweets of my SWEET interview, but coming out as bipolar to such a large audience definitely makes me feel vulnerable. I guess I've committed to it, with THE LUNATICS' BALL.
The very sweet editors at SWEET: A LITERARY CONFECTION have posted an interview with me, about my work in progress, and favorite writers, and why I write. Oh, and desserts.
“Little Colored Pills” was my second publication in SWEET, or third, I guess. I still remember how excited I was when “Summer Siren” and “The Fortuneteller’s Words” were accepted by Ira Sukrungruang. (I love his essays! He sent me an email from his phone! A novelty for me at the time.)
Very grateful to the current nonfiction editor Alysia Sawchyn and the interviews editor Zoe Lennox.
Being reminded that I'm a writer worth interviewing, and that "Little Colored Pills" was a breakthrough of sorts helps a lot right now when my spirits are down. I accomplished so little this summer. Classes have started. Simplifying my website, grouping publications by year instead of providing so much detail, also has me depressed. My productivity is waning, or so it seems, particularly in longer forms.
The interview makes my work in progress seem easy when it's not at all. "The Lunatics' Ball combines a lot of very disparate materials and kinds of writing and I'm still not sure what shape it will take." THERE's an understatement. The project is foundering, and I'm probably too sensitive to criticisms in my San Francisco writing group. I don't know whether this will ever cohere.