This came out of left field. LITERARY MAMA has nominated my story "A Nest, a Rock, a Bird" for BEST SMALL FICTIONS 2019. It came out last June, which seems like a long time ago! Very thankful to Colleen Kearney Rich and the other editors.
“Yet why not say what happened?” Sejal Shah uses this line from Robert Lowell in her stunning account of being bipolar, taking medications, dealing with neurodiversity and an invisible disability and the demands put on a faculty member of color in academia. Her essay just came out in KENYON REVIEW online this week and I feel so encouraged in my impulse to finally come out with my own neurodiversity (a term I’ve never embraced). Here’s the conclusion of Sejal Shah’s essay, but it’s all worth reading: “No one has to know your diagnosis—it’s true. But everyone deserves to be seen and known. And to get any support, you have to be willing to say it, claim it. Disclosures of cancer elicit sympathy, gifts of casseroles, rides to the hospital, or other support. Disclose a mental illness and observe the response. Our culture finds mental illness distasteful, unfortunate, a moral failing. Managing a mood disorder is exhausting—a taxing second job. It’s also a job invisible to most people in my work and personal life. Would I rather be neurotypical? Maybe; it would be easier. But would I be me? Who would I be? They say creativity arises in part from brain chemistry. Living with manic depressive illness has shaped me, created the contours of my adult life. I don’t tell everyone, but I am telling more.”
My fractured nonfiction flash “Little Colored Pills” on being bipolar and taking medications is finally out in SWEET: A LITERARY CONFECTION.
I wrote “Little Colored Pills” in a generative workshop on hybrids that Lidia Yuknavitch taught in Silverton, Oregon in fall 2017. We read Carole Maso’s wonderful, experimental The Art Lover in advance of the workshop. During the workshop some amazing free writes about bipolar sisters and mothers by fellow workshop students inspired me to read my freewrite about being bipolar aloud too. This was the next piece I wrote there. I was supposed to read it on the last day, and then there wasn’t time, and I felt so frustrated and silenced. I’m pleased that it’s been published, and in SWEET in particular. If I’m going to get anywhere with THE LUNATICS’ BALL, I need to accept being “out.” Because yes, “why not say what happened?”
I was in SWEET many years ago, back when the amazing writer and founding editor Ira Sukrungruang was accepting submissions. (He wrote me from his phone! He said my two flash were remarkable!). They've published so many creative nonfiction writers I admire profoundly. Just a sampling: Patrick Madden, Renee E. D'Aoust, Sarah Viren, Paul Crenshaw, Karen Babine, Chelsea Biondolillo, the late William Bradley, Karen Craigo, Joey Franklin, Amy Yellin, Melissa Mathewson, Brenda Miller. Until now I haven't managed to get in again, not for lack of trying. So I'm particularly thrilled to have "Little Colored Pills" in this latest issue.
Usually I have a stockpile of writing to submit to my writing group in San Francisco, which meets every other week. Lately I'm scraping together two or three flash, sometimes rewrites. I think it's the first time in seven years that I've had so little for the group. In fact in the first years I often didn't even take my flash to them, since I had long essays I wanted critiqued. My lowered productivity makes me nervous. I've been working—revising LUNATICS flash that they looked at, figuring out what can stand alone and submitting those to magazines (a time-consuming process, both the editing and the submitting). My reading for the project has slowed down. The beginning of the semester has me absorbed in the class I'm teaching. I spend altogether too much time on social media, especially twitter, reading other people's work and publicizing mine. I have quite a few things coming out right now. I don't think I have writer's block, but I'm still distressed about it.
I finally decided on a submission to F(R)ICTION after their really gracious solicit, and it looks like they like my flash "The Lunatics' Ball" pending what sounds like a potentially long round of edits with many editors involved. Not sure how that will turn out, but I'm thinking that THE LUNATICS' BALL will be the title of the collection, making this the title piece, so I'll be interested to hear what they say. Luckily I sent it to just them, so don't have to worry about juggling simultaneous submissions while I wait to see if this works out. This will also take away from producing new work, but may be time well spent.
Another new zine devoted to lost work from defunct litmags, DERELICT LIT is curated by Alan Good and looks great so far. (Check out stories by DeMisty D. Bellinger, C.C. Russell, and matchbook editor Brian Mihok.) Pleased to see my microfiction sequence “Step Right Up” from WORD RIOT reanimated. Bertha the Bearded Lady in particular was calling to me.
A post from my writer friend Alvin Orloff reminded me that today is Edgar Allan Poe's 210th birthday. (Love Alvin's suggestion that his face should be on the one dollar bill.) And then Janice Leagra, a writer on Twitter, unearthed and posted the weird lyric piece on Poe that I published in THREADCOUNT (she says she just ran across it for the first time, in a moment of cosmic serendipity), so I'll post it here. I am a diehard Poe fan.
"Fyodor Translates Edgar Translates the Universe," THREADCOUNT
Lots of nice twitter response to "The Red Ball," including praise from Kathy Fish, which always bowls me over. Can't wait for her online flash class in February.
I have some Poesque flashes, and lots of dark ones. Funny that the lightest flash I've published in a long time should be on his birthday.
I love Joseph Cornell boxes and cabinets with lots of tiny drawers and I was already taken by the aesthetic of the Irish online journal THE CABINET OF HEED. So I was thrilled when they accepted my story “The Red Ball,” just out in their January issue.
Relatively new, THE CABINET OF HEED has published many writers I love—Cathy Ulrich, Pat Foran, Sudha Balagopal, Adam Lock, Stephanie Hutton, Niles Reddick, Dan Crawley, Jayne Martin, Dorothy Rice, Christine Dalcher, Gaynor Jones, Salvatore Difalco, Gary Duncan, KB Carle. Many others.
I wrote this very uncharacteristic flash at Kathy Fish’s Fast Flash Extravaganza weekend event. Without her prompt and the encouragement of my fellow Fast Flashers, I would never have written a flash with an animal and a happy ending. (All three flash I wrote that weekend were departures for me, and that was fun. I’ve finally finished revising the other two and hope they’ll land somewhere soon.)
I was proud to have my essay “Saving Trees” included in the grand anthology from Outpost 19: ROOTED: The Best New Arboreal Nonfiction, edited by Josh MacIvor Anderson. So I’m pleased to see Daegan Miller’s tweet recommending the book today (and mention of my essay along with essays by the late Brian Doyle, Annie Bellerose, Paul Lisicky, Megan Gette, and Renée E. D'Aoust). ROOTED is a wonderful collection!
@DaeganMiller January 18, 2019
Another amazing book worth picking up: *Rooted: The Best New Arboreal Nonfiction* with an intro by @billmckibben and essays by @Paul_Lisicky, @idahobuzzy, @doylejacq, @808omega, Annie Bellerose, and the late Brian Doyle, among many others. http://outpost19.com/Rooted/
Daegan Miller is an environmentalist and Thoreau scholar with a lovely prose style who sometimes publishes in larger venues. I first came across his work in a personal essay on books and trees he published in Electric Literature a year ago. He's just what an academic should be, in my opinion.
Just read proofs for "Little Colored Pills" in SWEET, so it should be out any day. "The Red Ball" will be out in THE CABINET OF HEED tomorrow. And I have a reprint of "Step Right Up" coming out in a couple of days from DERELICT LIT. And classes start Tuesday, but I'm almost ready.
The lovely Swiss Ukranian Canadian writer Genia Blum included my flash "Pretty Girl" in her list of "Hot Picks of 2018" at QUEEN MOB'S TEAHOUSE today. An unexpected compliment!
I'm trying to redesign my creative nonfiction workshop, which is turning out to be difficult and a lot of work, and really should be completed by today or tomorrow, so I can get the 9-page syllabus photocopied by the university. Still didn't get the Christmas tree down, still awash in file folders and stacks of papers and books in my study. How did this long vacation suddenly get so short?
Nice interview with Diane Goettel, Executive Editor at BLACK LAWRENCE PRESS at the Kenyon Review blog. I'm still so thrilled to have won their Black River Chapbook Competition (what are the odds with 500 entries or so?) and to have landed at such a woman-centered press. Here's what she says about some of their recent themes: "I’m always thinking about our readers when I’m reviewing manuscripts that have come in through one of our contests or open reading periods. How will the manuscripts that we choose for publication serve them? Recently, for example, we’ve published a number of titles that specifically speak to current important conversations. The poetry collections The Truth Is by Avery M. Guess and Three Hands None by Denise Bergman (both forthcoming in the spring of 2019) focus unflinchingly on sexual violence against women. So does Parse by Ruth Baumann, due out this month; prey by Jeanann Verlee, published this summer; and The Missing Girl, by Jacqueline Doyle, published in 2017. Our recent list also includes a number of titles that grapple with issues of gender and sexuality–Past Lives, Future Bodies by Kristin Chang, Mosaic of the Dark by Lisa Dordal, The Summer She Was Under Water by Jen Michalski, Wasp Queen by Claudia Cortese, and With Animal by Carol Guess & Kelly Magee. Tornado Season by Courtney Craggett (due out next month) and Jillian in the Borderlands by Beth Alvarado (just acquired) are both short story collections squarely located at the US-Mexico border. And it Begins Like This by LaTanya McQueen, Blue Hallelujahs by Cynthia Manick, and Patient. by Bettina Judd, all illustrate and investigate the experiences of Black women in America."
Kathy Fish is using a lottery system for her classes because the wait lists are so long, and I was just informed that I got into the first session of her Fast Flash Workshop. It runs from February 11 to 22, when I'll be teaching, and I'm a bit nervous about that, but my husband points out that I often do my best work when I'm pressed for time. I just placed one of the flash I wrote in her Fast Flash Extravaganza at THE CABINET OF HEED (with two more that I really like seeking homes), her prompts always catch me off balance in just the right way, her flash community is full of great, well-published flash writers. This will be fun!
Sophie van Llewyn does great craft essays on writing flash fiction. In her newest, "Time in Flash Fiction" (TSS Publishing), she uses a microflash of mine ("Departure" in 100 WORD STORY, which I'd forgotten) as an example. She writes,
"One of the fundamental forms of expressing time in fiction is ‘real time.’ The scene is one of the basic elements of long and short fiction, and there’s nothing more ‘real time’ than a scene played in dialogue, with or without ‘stage directions.’ The action plays minute by minute, following the sequence of the scene. … Jacqueline Doyle uses a moment-by-moment deconstruction of a conversation between a couple, without further comments, to highlight a struggle for power. The use of subtext is brilliant here, especially since the piece is so short, only 100 words long. Note how the author doesn’t use ‘stage directions’ at all — there isn’t really a third party narrator outside of the tags ‘he said’ and ‘she said.’ An all-dialogue story is harder to pull off, but it is much more rewarding in terms of underlining the real-time dynamics between the protagonists."
This is the second time she's used one of my stories in an article. (She also recommended "The Missing Girl" in “Unusual Structures in Flash Fiction – Part II"). I'm so honored!