So excited to see my name in the online table of contents of the annual print journal PASSAGES NORTH but I don’t have my copy yet! The suspense is killing me. Lots of my favorite authors here. They posted a couple of pictures and I love the cover.
Last year the editor Laura Black published an article about Claudia McGill's art, specifically how they chose the art for my flash, and she's done that again! Loved reading Claudia McGill's blog entry about what went into their choice for "Why Indeed." I liked the alternative art too! Here's what she says about the two versions (see the blog entry for the art itself):
This story is told by a narrator who is obsessed by a former romantic interest but who does not see her behavior as unreasonable. Both pictures I made feature the view she describes, that of her ex-boyfriend’s house, because it is the focus of her vigil and her internal monologue that tells the story. The overall feeling is of mental disorder overlain by a logical tone
Image 23 – This image features the red color of the brick houses on a city street, the misty miserable weather, and blank windows and doors that give no response to the narrator. Black lines represent bare trees in the park where she sits. I wanted to give the impression of the house as a solid entity resisting her and her attempts to get back inside its world.
Image 24 – In this picture I included a row of houses with trees in a misty gray day, as in the first image, but this one is more chaotic in feeling with the black lines and irregular surfaces. The narrator has lost her grip on reality and I wanted to reflect this disintegration of her mental state in the way the house is portrayed.
They chose image 23.
You can see all of Claudia's art for FICTIVE DREAM so far this month on their home page and her blog entries on art for the other stories here. She's generously making the art available to the writers, and I will definitely ask her for the "Why Indeed" art.
My short flash “Why Indeed” is up today in the UK-based FICTIVE DREAM in their wonderful #FlashFictionFebruary series. Love the company this month! Some big names (Jude Higgins, Francine Witte, Sandra Arnold, Len Kuntz, Gay Degani, DS Levy, Meg Tuite), many other great flash by authors new to me, and eleven more to come.
Big thanks to editor Laura Black, and to Kathy Fish and fellow Fast Flashers at the online reunion where my unreliable narrator was born.
Great original art for each flash by Claudia McGill.
My flash "Free Fall" was in the series last year, and I loved her art for that one too. This is my third publication in FICTIVE DREAM.
I can’t remember the prompt that elicited this flash, but I seem to remember the Virgin Mary popping up unexpectedly, so it might have been Kathy’s suggestion to insert something that doesn’t fit. I hope I can take another of her enormously popular online flash classes later this year.
Some interesting editorial opportunities coming up as I'm coasting into the finish line for teaching. I wish I were writing more, at least writing more consistently right now, but I'm not worried about having nothing to do when I retire.
Jon Sindell curated a wonderful reading on the theme of fatherhood as part of the Rolling Writers Series. I read a piece excerpted from my essay "Traces of a Life" in KESTREL. I've always wanted to read the last paragraph of the piece and was glad to have the opportunity. The essay, and the photo of my father that I provided, have made me sad for the last few weeks, though. He looks so happy and hopeful in the picture!
Here we are at the Rolling-Out Cafe after the reading. Top row of the group photo: Jon Sindell, Bonnie McManis, Michael Alenyikov, Gary Singh, Richelle Slota. Bottom row: musician Michael Crabtree, Sandra Wassilie, Kathleen McClung, Kalpana Mohan, me, Kathy Wall. The room was packed, more than are visible in the photo. We got the last two seats and latecomers had to sit upstairs.
I've been down on my work lately, and I didn't expect this acceptance. I was astonished and thrilled to open my email this morning and discover that LITTLE FICTION, BIG TRUTHS will be publishing my flash "Sooner or Later" in their special Flash Fiction Issue next summer. I love the magazine, and was so happy to appear in their special Flash Nonfiction issue last summer.
Not sure why I've been feeling so down. Not much to send out, for one thing, and a pretty short list of essays and flash out under submission on Submittable, for me at least. I got rid of some dead wood, cut one flash in half that's been getting tons of rejections (and the shorter version was just rejected yesterday). Days and days go by where I don't write. The LUNATICS' BALL writing seems to require so much preparation and research (I'm overwhelmed by facts). Reading other people's work has come to dominate my days: student exercises and essays, short story and flash submissions for CRAFT, submissions in my writing groups, long biographies for the LUNATICS' BALL. This week we have too many submissions in my San Francisco group so I volunteered to postpone the two flash I wanted to do. And now I'm disgruntled and depressed about it, even though I volunteered. (Maybe because only one member said thank you.)
LITTLE FICTION, BIG TRUTHS. A dream journal (I could hardly believe I got in there the first time, and then that they nominated me for a Pushcart). A totally unexpected blessing.
I'd also forgotten that Jane Ciabattari nominated me for a Pushcart. Yesterday I got a letter in the mail from the Pushcart people, asking me to select up to three pieces to send to them for consideration. Even though I know I won't get into the anthology, it's still a thrill.
Pleased to see my three-part flash sequence "Johnsy Seen Her Too" in the new issue of CRACK THE SPINE (click on my name in the table of contents).
This garnered some rejections as a micro (just the first section) and I wondered whether it was because the narrator is so misogynist. So I decided to redo it as three sections, adding two women's voices. Before I could send out that version, CRACK THE SPINE accepted the micro. (Of course!) I sent the new version to them just in case they preferred it,, and the editor-in-chief Kerri Farrell Foley agreed to accept that one. I'm still not completely sure which version I prefer.
It's my first time in CRACK THE SPINE, which has published many authors whose work I love—among them, Kim Magowan, Claire Polders, Minyoung Lee, Christina Dalcher, Sara Siddiqui Chansarker, Madeline Anthes, Sarah Broussard Weaver, and Jan Elman Stout.
I was really excited to be included in the stellar Flash Nonfiction issue of LITTLE FICTION BIG TRUTHS last summer. And gratified that my piece, “The Arithmetic Memory,” made their TOP TEN MOST READ list. LITTLE FICTION/BIG TRUTHS asked some of their contributors to put together TOP TEN FOR 2019 lists and they’re up today. I wrote mine before Australia was burning and before a lot of environmental roundups in the newspapers might have provided even more facts and dramatic evidence. When I sat down to write it felt like a lot was disappearing in 2019.
Each weekend a different editor at ATTICUS REVIEW writes a letter. Today's by the creative nonfiction editor Chauna Craig has me thinking about the hope necessary to sustain a longer project. I regret abandoning my essay collection DO-IT-YOURSELF NIGHT when it was just about finished. I kept thinking I needed a stronger arc and ending, and started THE LUNATICS' BALL thinking it would be a flash chapbook (ha!) that I could complete as a distraction. Here's what Chauna Craig says about hope:
"In my morning reading I came across this quotation from writer and revolutionary Vaclav Havel: 'Hope is not a feeling. It is not the belief that things will turn out well, but the conviction that what we are doing makes sense, no matter how things turn out.' I paused. I printed those lines into a journal. I pondered. A conviction is something much more lasting than a feeling, and Havel reminds us that hope is less a look to the future than a deep grounding in the present, the affirmation that what we are (currently) doing makes sense, no matter how things turn out. When I examine my own writing life through this frame of hope, I see how much — to the detriment of my own joy — I still tend to value product over process and give too much weight to external evaluation. I’ve set aside difficult and complicated writing projects, telling myself they just need to rest. Rest is generally good, but some of my projects have gone Rip Van Winkle on me, stirring again long after the cultural moment has changed. The more that happens, the more I succumb to the belief that the current project will go the same way, that I’m not capable of really finishing, that I’m only wasting my time and energy if I don’t. The opposite of hope."
It's hard not to overvalue external evaluation, and the brief thrill of having something published and acknowledged by editors and readers on social media. It's hard to maintain the belief that what I'm working on "makes sense, no matter how things turn out." THE LUNATICS' BALL keeps growing instead of neatly cohering, but the process of discovery makes some kind of sense to me. I hope I can maintain that process.
Literary journals can only nominate a handful of flash for BEST SMALL FICTIONS. I guess individuals can too (as they can for Pushcarts: this year Jane Ciabbatari nominated me for a Pushcart and I don't know how that works either). Tom Gumbert just announced his list of nominees on twitter, nineteen of them, and I'm thrilled to be one. Already excited that JUKED nominated me for BEST SMALL FICTIONS, because JUKED is so good, and it's also a flash I like a lot. I don't know whether there's a particular flash associated with Tom Gumbert's nomination (surprisingly many authors I don't know, but Amy Stuber and Leonora Desar are on the list, and I love their work).
I would really like to get into BEST SMALL FICTIONS 2020.
Managed to get through my first week of teaching. A great group of students in my creative nonfiction workshop. It's taxing!