Hope to see some Bay Area friends at the Pandemonium Press Reading Series next week on Wednesday, June 6, 7pm, at the Octopus Literary Salon, where I'll be reading with Sara McAulay, Jon Sindell, and Amos White.
I didn't know who I'd be reading with when Leila Rae invited me. I love Amos White's haiku and I've heard him read several times. Sara McAulay and Jon Sindell are not only great flash writers, they're also friends. I inherited Sara's creative nonfiction class, which I've been teaching at Cal State East Bay for many years, and have published in her online magazine TATTOO HIGHWAY twice. I've heard Jon Sindell read many times, and I've also appeared many times in his great reading series Rolling Writers. This should be a fun get-together.
Just got a check for $100 from ZONE 3, where my essay "Some Things I Forgot" appeared. Lovely because I'd forgotten it was on its way. Lovely because I love ZONE 3 and would have published there anyway.
And nice tweets from writers I don't know in praise of "Leftovers" in ATTICUS REVIEW, and an email from a flash writer I do know praising my flash sequence on Freud's Dora, which she read in NOTHING TO DECLARE: A GUIDE TO THE FLASH SEQUENCE, the only place it's available now, an anthology that I love but thought no one was reading!
It's also a beautiful day, temperatures in the 80s. Steve and I just had lunch on the outdoor patio of a cafe with a talented writer/former student who's just finished her m.a. Strolled to the local indie bookstore (Books on B in Hayward) to order a couple of books, stopped for ice cream cones on the way back. The last week of classes at Cal State East Bay. Summer is starting.
Back after a week in a cozy Airbnb at Cape Cod, where I worked with the flash writer Kathryn Kulpa on a possible book-length collaborative flash collection. We got a lot done, mostly holed up in the condo, but we did make it to the beach one day (see picture), and also to the Brewster Ladies' Library, where we used their conference room to spread out the flash we'd chosen and organize our sections. Also made it to Edward Gorey's house.
While I was away:
"Leftovers" came out in the great journal ATTICUS REVIEW, and generated a surprising amount of buzz on Twitter, from my virtual flash friends but also strangers who loved it. Micros, of course, are the perfect Twitter reading.
I did a Skype (actually Zoom) interview with a Jenny Ferguson's wonderful creative writing class at Hobart and William Smith college. My first such experience and I really enjoyed it. Loved to hear that a college class was reading my chapbook. A few days later, also out of the blue, the writer Chelsea Biondolillo wrote to me that she was including excerpts from chapbook in her summer writing class as well.
And yet, I'm feeling depressed about my flash today. Working with Kathryn, it appeared that she had a lot more flash for our project than I do. Despite having published a lot, many of mine weren't relevant to our focus, many also seemed ephemeral to me.
Then Christopher James, the editor at JELLYFISH REVIEW, published a list of his 30+ favorite flash writers (which didn't include me). He's created such a family feeling of community at his magazine (where I've published three times) and it was depressing not to be on his list.
And WIGLEAF just published their list of the TOP 50 (VERY SHORT) FICTIONS, an annual list assembled by a different guest editor each year of the best flash of the previous year. There's also a Long List of about 150 more. I was thrilled to have two Finalist flash at BEST SHORT FICTIONS 2018, and disappointed to have nothing on these lists (Kathryn, I'm pleased to say, is long-listed, and there are tons of writers I love on both lists). Jet-lagged and tired after a long trip yesterday (twelve hours door to door, even with a direct flight), I'm feeling down today, like everyone's celebrating a party I wasn't invited to.
Wondering also how often I've made others depressed by celebrating my achievements on social media. Writers have been so generous about celebrating with me.
The queen of flash? Beloved flash guru? How to describe Kathy Fish, who teaches brilliant flash classes and writes brilliant flash and whose "Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild" in Jellyfish Review was probably the most brilliant flash last year. (Already included in two forthcoming anthologies, Best Small Fictions 2018 and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2018.)
Kathy had a really nice comment on "Clara at the Bus Station," my recent piece in Fictive Dream, which I started in her online weekend flash class last year. (I was unnerved by the first rejection of that story, a supposedly helpful reader's report that was actually a very reductive summary of the plot and character, and I didn't send the story out for a while after that. Sometimes it's hard for me to regain equilibrium after criticism. You'd think I'd be used to it by now.)
And today on twitter Kathy praised "Checkmate": "'Checkmate' by @doylejacq in the @bluefifth review is a wonder of a one paragraph flash, using repetition to fullest advantage and brilliantly circling back to the beginning. Love it."
When I wrote to say thanks, she added: "I loved it. I love how the story just keeps opening wider, but stays on point from beginning to end Brilliance."
My twitter family are all such good writers and faithful readers. Loved hearing from Cathy Ulrich, Pat Foran, K.B. Karle, Jolene Mcilwain, Melissa Ostrom, Tara Isabel Zambrano, Kaj Tanaka, Chloe N. Clark, and Dina L. Relles, who all retweeted "Checkmate," and so many others who did likes and comments. I have a lot of local writer friends and acquaintances in the Bay Area, but not so many who are primarily flash writers and readers. (I treasure Lynn Mundell, Kara Vernor, Frances Lefkowitz.) It's great to hear from these flash writers and to read their work online.
Stories that were accepted before they got rejections anywhere else are always special, and this is one of them. In fact Blue Fifth is the only place that I sent this flash!
My flash “Checkmate” is out today at BLUE FIFTH REVIEW/BLUE FIVE NOTEBOOK. Scroll down to the second story, and then keep scrolling for great stories by Cathy Ulrich, Jayne Martin, Nod Ghosh, great poems by DeMisty Bellinger, Susan Tepper, many others. Did I mention how many authors I love have already been published in BLUE FIFTH REVIEW? Kathryn Kulpa, James Claffey, Claire Polders, Tara Isabel Zambrano, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Christopher Allen, Colin Winnette, Meg Pokrass, for a start. Honored to join their company.
This apology flash was written at the Hawaii retreat last December, inspired by a Brenda Miller prompt based on her famous flash “Swerve.” I hardly ever write to prompts, but when I do, I'm usually pleased with the results—especially when the prompt comes out of the blue, from someone else, and I have a limited time to write. Even when the flash goes through subsequent drafts, the speed of the first draft gets things on the page that slower composition would not have.
Leah Angstman over at THE COIL does a roundup each week of the best reading on the indie internet and this week my Bosch flash at JELLYFISH REVIEW is included! Thrilled to be in such good company.
And I had an acceptance this morning from LITERARY MAMA. Just sent the flash to them yesterday, hadn't sent it anywhere else yet. Publication should always be this easy.
(Three rejections today, I should add. There's nothing easy about being writer, even on the good days.)
In a rush to print out most of my flash for a trip next week to Cape Cod, where I will meet up with flash writer Kathryn Kulpa to consider a collaborative project. And to gather together some materials for a Skype interview that week, requested by Jenny Ferguson, a creative writing instructor at Hobart and William Smith College, who contacted me out of the blue. A very small class, but they'll be reading my chapbook, which is exciting.
And of course right now, while I'm so busy, I've been going through extensive edits with short deadlines for two upcoming flash: "Medusa Reflects," coming out in the feminist journal So to Speak, and "Cheated," coming out in a Folio at Mom Egg Review edited by Peg Alford Pursell. I've gone through lengthy editorial processes on creative nonfiction before (most recently, at The Gettysburg Review and NOR: New Ohio Review) but not on flash. I find it more difficult somehow; in something so short any small change has a ripple effect and throws off the balance of the work as a whole. I'd done a rewrite of "Medusa" with some major structural changes between the time I submitted it and the time they accepted it. They worked with both drafts and the rewrite was fairly complicated, arduous but fun. Finished with "Medusa." Not sure about "Cheated" yet. Waiting to hear about our fourth version.
New flash (“Clara at the Bus Station”) online at the UK short story journal FICTIVE DREAM (which has published great flash writers like Melissa Goode, Paul Beckman, Santino Prinzi, Stephanie Hutton, Nod Ghosh, and Sudha Galagopal). Many thanks to editor Laura Black. And to Kathy Fish for inspiring the girl on the pink tricycle in an online weekend flash fiction workshop I took with her last year. (Her instructions at one point, if I remember correctly: put in something that doesn't belong at all.)
Wonderful launch last night of NOTHING SHORT OF at The Bindery in the Haight. About twenty readers, all great.
I had dinner before the reading with Jayne Martin, a virtual flash friend that I've never met in person before. At AWP in March I met Lucy Bryan Malenke and Tommy Dean, virtual essayist and flash friends I'd never met in person before, and in a couple of weeks I'll meet Kathryn Kulpa, a flash friend and online flash beta reader I've never met in person before. Twitter and Facebook have really broadened my writing communities.
One rejection (The Collagist) and two acceptances today (So to Speak and Mom Egg Review). And my good friend and longtime writing group member Alia Volz just sold her book to a mainstream NYC publisher for a colossal sum. Yay! So the stars must be aligning right.
It’s finally here! Floored to have new work in another long shot print journal—paying, prestigious, with tons of illustrious contributors (many of whom I teach). My memoir essay “Some Things I Forgot” just came out in the spring issue of ZONE 3, which has been around for more than thirty years, and has published creative nonfiction heavyweights like Sonja Livingston, Brenda Miller, Jill Talbot, Ira Sukrungruang, Paul Crenshaw, Rebecca McClanahan, Dinty W. Moore, Ander Monson, Lia Purpura, and so many others.
ZONE 3 is a print literary journal, available for sale through Small Press Distribution.