The year started inauspiciously, with my first case of COVID (requiring quarantine in Scotland) and then an emergency root canal in January. It could only improve after that.
I’m proud to have been awarded another Notable Essay listing in Best American Essays this year, for my essay “Cutting Edge,” published in Permafrost. I’m particularly pleased that a hybrid essay written for my WIP The Lunatics’ Ball was chosen for this honor.
I made good progress on The Lunatics’ Ball (despite often feeling I was at a standstill). Both of the longform essays that I published this year are part of the collection, both in dream publications. In addition to other flash, I also published two flash from The Lunatics’ Ball in wonderful journals with particular interest in hybrids.
Deep thanks to the following journals for publishing my work in 2023:
Bulb Culture Collective
Flash Fiction, Flash Nonfiction, Hybrids
Centaur (nominated for Best of the Net)
Deep thanks also to the editors of these anthologies and craft books for publishing (and/or discussing) my work in 2023:
Awakenings, edited by Diane Gottlieb (ELJ Editions)
The Art of Brevity by Grant Faulkner (University of New Mexico Press)
I read twice in the Rolling Writers reading series in San Francisco, now relocated from the Rolling Café to Jon Sindell’s beautiful garden in the Outer Sunset, and also in the FBomb NY Flash Fiction Series (relocated from the KGB Bar in Manhattan to Zoom) and the new online series Prose Garden, curated by Francine Witte and Meg Pokrass.
A number of writers have taught my works in their classes this year. I enjoyed my Zoom visit to Kathryn Kulpa’s Cleaver workshop on flash collections. I also enjoyed being interviewed by a student in Jill Talbot’s graduate seminar “B(l)ending Genre: Fiction and Nonfiction” at the University of North Texas.
I was privileged to interview Sarah Fawn Montgomery for CRAFT. I published craft essays on Adrienne Rich (in Adrienne Koesters’ series) and on Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart” (in the Scratch Classics series).
It was such a joy to work as the Creative Nonfiction Section Editor for CRAFT. I’m always sorry that we have to turn down so many excellent submissions, but I’m very proud of the wonderful longform creative nonfiction and flash nonfiction that we published in 2023. I’m also very gratified that we earned another Notable Essay listing (this one for Beth Kephart’s stellar essay “Thieves”). We have only been publishing creative nonfiction for three years, and “Thieves” is our fourth Notable Essay.
I want to thank all of the editors who have believed in my work this year; the fellow writers who have encouraged me in my writing groups and on social media; the Editor-in-Chief and my editorial assistants and freelance readers at CRAFT; and the writers who have trusted CRAFT with their work. I appreciate all of you beyond words.
Wishing you a healthy, happy, productive new year.
[Photo of manual typewriter with thank you typed in multiple languages by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash]
The Prose Garden reading, curated by Francine Witte and Meg Pokrass, was wonderful, They've posted it on Youtube (my reading starts at 44:09, but everyone was great, and I love their interview of the primary reader, Jeff Friedman).
I've been working on THE LUNATICS' BALL and have just about no submissions out in the world. Now, two acceptances within three days. One of them from the second place that responded, one of them from the first place that responded! Or maybe I should say eight acceptances, since FLASH BOULEVARD just took a group of seven micros. Out next January or February. I love Francine Witte's FLASH BOULEVARD and I'm very excited.
I have a new story that started as a flash and deepened and grew into a (short) short story, and I just sent it out to a bunch of places, and got one rejection yesterday (nice, but disappointing, since I published there before) and then my second response was a super-nice acceptance today from BULL! (Unforgettable opening line: "This is brilliant.")
I love BULL. Their fiction is consistently good. They've published a lot of writers, and stories, I'm crazy about. I published a satirical flash with them last year ("The Peak of His Powers"), but "Randall's Commute" is quite different, almost religious at the end.
It will be five or six months before it's out. I like knowing something's coming out in the future. My nonfiction flash "Ode to My Cat, Ten Years Gone" will be coming out in SWEET next spring also.
When Tom Conaghan of Scratch Books in the UK asked me to write an introduction to a classic short story whose writer had died before 1952, Poe was one of the first authors who occurred to me. Loved writing "On 'The Tell-Tale Heart.'"
Scratch Books posted the link on twitter with this cool illustration (don't know by whom or from where).
Two invitations yesterday and today.
Yesterday Ashley Balcazar, the graduate student in Jill Talbot's graduate seminar "B(l)ending Genres: Fiction and Nonfiction," wrote to ask whether our interview could in fact be published in a portfolio of student interviews at AMERICAN LITERARY REVIEW. Before we did the interview, we'd agreed that it would just be for the class. I was frank and informal in a way I probably wouldn't have been if she hadn't been bipolar herself and if the interview was for publication. I guess it's probably okay, with some cuts.
I just finished the craft essay on hybridity and THE LUNATICS' BALL for the W.W. Norton textbook, improved after back and forth with my friend Matthew. No telling whether the publishers will want it, but I have my fingers crossed.
Francine Witte just invited me to be one of the spotlight readers on December 2 at the new online reading series she's co-curating with Meg Pokrass THE PROSE GARDEN.
Bulb Culture Collective just posted their Halloween pubs individually, so "Raney's Imaginary Friend" is now more accessible. Maybe I'll get some readers.
We just did a new piece of my fiction in writing group today, and I'm pleased to report there are no literary references in it.
Steve just got his first blurb for his novella. Exciting!
Halloween was a busy day for publications. "Raney's Imaginary Friend" seems to have come and gone pretty much unnoticed. Oh well. It was a reprint anyway, but it's a story I've always liked. I don't write much longform fiction. Working on some flash this past few weeks has reawakened my interest in flash fiction too. I've gotten rusty. I managed to come up with a flash that I hope Laura Black at FICTIVE DREAM will like and another one that I sent elsewhere.
An unexpected opportunity: "The Lunatics' Ball" might be included in a chapter on hybrids in a writing textbook. W.W. Norton would have to approve but for now the textbook writers would like a craft essay, and writing that has been rejuvenating. Even if they don't use it, writing about the project has helped me focus on why I'm doing it and the craft choices I've made.
For no reason at all: Van Gogh's "Corridor in the Asylum," which editors at separate publications used to illustrate one of my pieces and one of Steve's pieces. At around the same time if I remember right. We're a good match: apparently both mad. I'm not sure you'd know the light-filled corridor was in a mental asylum if you didn't know Van Gogh's story. A bit jumbled and chaotic in the foreground, a possibly infinite series of portals, but light-filled.
So thrilled to interview Sarah Fawn Montgomery for CRAFT, and that she has agreed to judge our contest this year (now called the Memoir Excerpt & Essay Contest).
Just in time for Halloween, Bulb Culture Collective has done a gathering of spooky reprints, including my story "Raney's Imaginary Friend," complete with yellow wallpaper and a ghostly double. After "Bartleby" a week or two ago, you probably think all of my stories feature academics in the throes of literary criticism of famous short stories, but really those are the only two. (I think.)