They’re here! “Dermagraphism” and “Huntress” are out in the latest issue of THE COLLAGIST.
THE COLLAGIST is one of my all-time dream pubs, so I’m over the moon. The editor Gabe Blackwell was so enthusiastic and encouraging and did such a great close reading of “Dermagraphism.”
I’m still struggling with the voice and shape of The Lunatics’ Ball collection. It’s wonderful to have the first two publications from the project in such an eminent journal.
I read a lot of flash on twitter, and now I decided to edit down a previously unpublished cnf micro to enter the #MythicPicnictweetstory contest, which I assume means I can't use it later, since it will have been posted online. But I like twitter and follow a lot of writers there, so maybe it will get just as many readers as an online publication does, at least an online publication in a journal that's not well known.
University-affiliated journals are closing up shop for the summer already, and I'm scurrying to decide what's ready to send out, and where I should send it. "The Lunatics' Ball" is a step closer to getting accepted at F(R)ICTION (I've never seen a magazine with such a hierarchical and lengthy path through editing and acceptance), so it's hard to decide where to send it, especially since there's another short essay from the project that I want to place and I can't send both. I sent "Madeline's Trunk" to only one journal, BELLEVUE LITERARY REVIEW, because I've had other work come close there and it seemed like a perfect fit. They do readers' reports and included one in their rejection: ""Here is one of our reviewer's comments: 'The writer artfully combines several elements - history, psychiatry and imagination -to make a compelling story. She manages to weave her own history/story with the historical one seamlessly. Also brings alive psychiatric practices that today seem ignorant and cruel.'" Which is encouraging.
Submissions are so difficult. I have a set of flash that I think are good that are getting a lot of rejections, so I'm finding it difficult to maintain my confidence in them and keep sending them out. When CAUSTIC FROLIC accepted my story and I pulled it from LONGLEAF REVIEW they said all their editors had liked it and now I'm paralyzed, trying to decide what to send to them, because I'd love to get into their magazine.
Back to teaching tomorrow, and it's hard after a week and a half off. Didn't manage to organize my study over the break, which is overflowing with haphazard stacks of file folders and books, or to transfer the Lunatics' Ball project from Word to Scrivener, which may turn out to be easier than I expect. If I ever get to it.
Steve and I took a leisurely last-day-of-spring-break drive down the coast on Friday, stopped in Half Moon Bay for a late lunch, ended up at a CATAMARAN LITERARY READER Lit Chat event in Santa Cruz. We took some potential head shots for publications (I felt weird at AWP when someone said I didn't look like my picture, which is old). The one we liked of Steve is closer up than most headshots, the one I liked most of me (Steve took a lot) isn't head on. Here they are:
I wish I'd known about Zoë Ballering's review of THE MISSING GIRL while I was at AWP so I could have looked up BELLINGHAM REVIEW (a great magazine) at the book fair. This is so insightful that it takes my breath away. So I'll quote it all here.
MARCH 27, 2019ADMIN
The Missing Girl by Jacqueline Doyle
Black Lawrence Press (September 19, 2017) Reviewed by Zoë Ballering
“The dark spot by the road that you might not notice at all is, you see, the beginning of everything. There is a clump of elders there as used to grow beside the road before our house back in Winseburg, Ohio, and in among the elders there is something hidden. It is a woman, that’s what it is.”
–Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio
Jacqueline Doyle’s The Missing Girl opens with the above epigraph by Sherwood Anderson, reminding the reader that darkness is, in fact, where everything begins. In the series of shorts that make up Doyle’s collection, we are plunged into darkness again and again. Harm befalls young women with so little notice and so much ease: they are plucked off the side of the road, shot by their lovers, and ignored when they say their names. In short, Doyle’s protagonists go missing—an act of repetition that Doyle manages to portray in terms that are heartbreakingly unique.
One of the tricks in The Missing Girl is its manipulation of perspective. The title story, for example, makes use of a second person point of view that twists, in the course of two pages, into the “you” you never wanted to be. The narrator sees a poster for a missing girl and seems to imagine her in sympathetic terms. Then sympathy twists into callousness, callousness into lust, lust into memory, and suddenly you—the narrator—are remembering a girl named Early Halliday whom you drove into the darkness and away from life. It’s a masterful deterioration that Doyle manages in the space of a few hundred words.
Yet the “you” in The Missing Girl is never static. In “Hula,” a young woman on a trip to Hawaii is picked up by a fellow vacationer who grows increasingly boorish and menacing. “Hula” closes on a heartbreaking note, showing how erasure always precedes violence:
Let’s hula, baby, he says, pushing you toward the door, one hand still under your elbow, the other gripping your waist… And now you answer his question. My name’s Lucy, you say. Lucy. But people are talking loud and howling with laughter and you’re not sure he even hears.
Whereas the title story allows the narrator’s intentions to sharpen as the story progresses, “Hula” presents an accelerating blur. You—the narrator—drunk and possibly drugged, can see the bad thing coming, but you can’t find a way to change how the story ends.
There’s always the risk in these types of stories that readers will partake in a form of literary rubbernecking—gaping at blood and guts as they pass by, unscathed and unchanged. Doyle circumvents this risk in two ways. First, her shifting first and second person points of view holds the reader close. Second, she insists on naming names. In “Hula,” Lucy announces herself; the story allows her to speak her name so that someone hears. And The Missing Girl, as a whole, is full of protagonists defiantly naming themselves: Eula Johnson, Early Halliday, Molly, Kelly, Nola. Perhaps this emanates from Doyle’s second epigraph, a quote from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The quote reminds us that missing children are never forgotten. No name, insists Doyle, can ever truly be erased.
In another story titled “Something Like That,” a narrator wrestles with whether she lied about an experience of sexual assault:
So maybe it didn’t happen to me in exactly that way with exactly those boys on exactly that night. But things have happened to me, on nights like that, with boys like that.
This character’s reflection, both wounded and confused, may serve as the keystone to the collection as a whole. Too often, violence against women is rendered as an act of nameless repetition. In beautiful yet economical prose, Doyle takes the haziness of “nights like that, with boys like that” and imbues each scene and story with horrifying specificity. Women receive names, wills, bodies, and desires, even as Doyle charts their absence. The result is hard to read, perhaps, but harder to put down.
ZOË BALLERING is in the midst of completing her MFA at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. She’s currently writing her thesis, a collection of short stories of speculative fiction dealing with themes of physical and emotional pain and how pain finds (or fails to find) expression through language.
Our two readings were both stupendous and that was pretty cool. On our last night we went to a reading where I saw a lot of flash writers who knew my work and seemed excited to meet me. ("Are you THE Jacqueline Doyle?" someone asked, and I almost fell out of my chair.) I was excited to meet them! There were some friends I rarely get to see that I dearly love. There were a couple of former students I enjoyed running into. I bought some good books. All in all it was a good trip and now Steve and I have the week off.
Is pretty overwhelming. An hour-long registration line yesterday (that is for everyone who had already pregistered; we were just picking up our badges and bags), a really long walk to the first event where there were no seats and the audience was spilling out the door. Loved seeing our friend Sharon and meeting a couple of twitter flash writers, but I ended up not going to the SmokeLong reading last night and regretted it today. I am not a very sociable person at heart. I did get to meet two bipolar writers whose essays I admire tremendously and had the opportunity to tell them so. One posted it as a high point on her facebook page, so maybe being here has been worth it for that. I was feeling fine about my writing before we arrived; now I'm aware of the party atmosphere at the magazines that have rejected me (of course) and even though their writer/editors often admire my writing online, I feel like an outsider. Steve and I are in two back to back readings later today and I'm actually looking forward to that.
So pleased to see my nonfiction flash “Dark Hallway” in CLEAVER, a magazine I have long admired, which has work in this issue by Josh Denslow, Andrea Jarrell, and Tommy Dean, flash in recent issues from Kim Magowan, Cathy Ulrich, Madeline Anthes, and Jennifer Todhunter, and many more great writers in their archives. I’m a big fan of their senior flash editor Kathryn Kulpa as well (who recused herself from considering my submission, since we know each other, but went through some really fruitful edits with me after the piece was accepted). This is my second publication in CLEAVER, where I published “Early Spring Rainstorm” several years ago. A big thanks to Karen Rile and the editorial team!
Leaving for the airport in an hour. Still not showered or dressed or fully packed.
Getting excited about AWP. Our friend Sharon Dolin (a poet Steve and I have been close friends with since grad school at Cornell) is coming today to spend the night before we all leave for Portland. I've got some plans, some meetings lined up, what I'll read figured out (both readings require excerpting longer essays).
Haven't heard from F(R)ICTION about the latest revision of "The Lunatics' Ball," which I think is probably bad news, but we'll see. I'm excited by Gabe Blackwell's response to the two Lunatics flash he accepted for THE COLLAGIST. He praised them as "fantastic" and said he loved them when he accepted them. When we went through edits, he said, "every time I read ["Dermagraphism"], I like it more. It reminds me of John Berger, and I love to be reminded of John Berger." I'm still over the moon about my acceptance there. The next issue will be out in a month.
I love John Berger too. I've been so uneasy about my writing group steering me toward prosier, more accessible accounts of my nonfiction lunatics with memoir blended in. And their bias against "academic" writing. Can I do something lyric and academic, save the memoir bits for separate flash?
BEST OF THE NET came out today, with a number of friends included. I'm really happy for them, but in true neurotic writer fashion, was also disappointed not to be invited to the party. I got several Pushcart nominations and Best Small Fictions nominations this year, but had to check to see what Best of the Net nominations I got. Turns out I didn't get any, so of course I couldn't get into the anthology. So I can be depressed about not getting any nominations instead of about not getting into the book.
Looking forward to reading the BEST OF THE NET selections, and Amy Hempel's new book, and to buying a bunch of indie press books at AWP and to meeting friends there. And to the readings. Steve and I are in both of them (CATAMARAN LITERARY READER and BLACK LAWRENCE PRESS), a first, and actually reading our collaborative essay together in the THEY SAID reading.
A very intense afternoon working on the edits from Gabe Blackwell at THE COLLAGIST (of course very useful and intelligent). I discovered that the website of archived primary materials for one of the flash is gone, and that a quotation from my other source may be a misattribution. So much easier when doing straight scholarship; a footnoted explanation will suffice. I'm glad to be teaching only one class this semester and to have time to drop everything and do this.
As always, my Twitter flash community is so supportive! It's the perfect place to read flash by others and have others read your flash. Gratified by the responses to my newest, many from writers I know less well or not at all this time.
Taking a break from writing for the Lunatics project. Thinking that I've been writing too soon after doing research, trying to incorporate all the details and document them in notes at the back. When I wrote about Freud's Dora (I still like that piece and plan to include it), I immersed myself in the text and secondary research and then just riffed, no footnotes except to Freud's case study. Maybe I should be doing that here.
Great essay by Sarah Menkedick in LONGREADS about the difficulties of research. "What made this second book so difficult was research: not the process of doing it, not compiling and organizing it, but the quandary of how to make it creative." She talks to Leslie Jamison, Carina Chocano, and Elena Passarello in "Behind the Writing: On Research."
Lots of bits I love here. Here's one. "When I asked Jamison how she maintained a consistent voice in the research and personal sections, she gave several answers. The first was that she went through tons and tons of drafts. She edited the book down into smaller and smaller sections, from 20 to 25 page sections to 4 to 5 page ones. 'What makes the prose feel like a song rather than a march,' she explained, 'is when you list away all the stuff that doesn’t need to be there and you let its details breathe, and you feel like it has that freedom of movement.'”
Hoping to manage that song rather than the march.
So thrilled to have my micro “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” in THE JOURNAL OF COMPRESSED CREATIVE ARTS from Matter Press today. They’re excellent. They pay. They’ve published amazing flash writers like Steve Almond, James Claffey, Kim Chinquee, Kristina Marie Darling, Kathy Fish, Sherry Flick, Roxane Gay, Michael Martone, Pamela Painter, Ethel Rohan, Amber Sparks and a gazillion more. Big thanks to editor Randall Brown.