It will be out in September, but you can pre-order BEST SMALL FICTIONS 2018 (series editor Sherrie Flick, 2018 editor Aimee Bender) from Braddock Books at a discount right now. Proud to have two flash ("Zig Zag" and "The Missing Girl") in the list of Finalists at the back of the book. Looking forward to reading the 53 winning flash.
Here's the comment from Tara Laskowski, editor of SMOKELONG QUARTERLY, in the fine print at the bottom of the cover: "Consistently, reliably brilliant—this series is a must-read for flash enthusiasts."
Ander Monson (editor of DIAGRAM) and the folks over at ESSAY DAILY decided to ask anyone and everyone to track what happened to them on June 21, "a kind of mass data trawl of subjectivity … as many takes as we can get on one summer (for most of us) day." They've started publishing the results. I forgot to track my day but just sent in what I remember (so much of what I write seems to be about the limits of what I remember). The dispatches are fascinating, boring, strange. They're by essayists I've heard of, writers I haven't, probably people who aren't writers as well. Stop in and take a look.
I got a really nice email from the editor of the print literary journal OCEAN STATE REVIEW in Rhode Island soliciting work from me. I hadn't heard of them before, they look really good and have published some top writers (including Keith Waldrop, one of my undergraduate mentors at Brown). I sent them something weird and now wonder if I missed my opportunity. Pleased to hear that the editor liked my chapbook at least. Waiting nervously to see what he thinks of my weird submission.
Proofs are here! Steve and I have a collaborative essay, "Imaginary Friends," in an amazing anthology coming out from Black Lawrence Press this summer: THEY SAID: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Collaborative Writing. 400+ pages, so good, so many famous contributors. I can't wait to hold the book in my hands.
Just coming out of a three-day Kathy Fish Flash Extravaganza online reunion with three new flash. I work so well to her prompts, and they take me places I wouldn't have gone. It was fun seeing what the other flash writers did with the prompts (so many of them flash writers whose publications I read regularly).
The CHICAGO QUARTERLY REVIEW did a reading at Adobe Books in the Mission last night. Steve read from his story "Hard Shoes" (which I love) and our son Ben came and we had dinner with some great people after and that was all fun too.
Six flash published in the month of June, three flash and two essays published in the month of May. Overwhelming really.
Reflecting on the flip side of social media today: the rush when you get praise and appreciative readers, the anxiety when no one responds. I spend too much time checking my posts and worrying about who thinks what. Also a lot of time reading and disseminating good work by others—valuable, but also time-consuming, time I could spend writing and revising work of my own. And while it might seem that reading good flash by others would be inspiring, this year I've been far more inspired by visual art than by writing. Facebook and twitter are feeling like black holes.
And another, before I've had a chance to announce the last two on social media. LITERARY MAMA has published my flash "A Nest, A Rock, a Bird" today, with some cool art by Carlynne Hershberger.
LITERARY MAMA has published lots of great writers (just a few: Wendy C. Ortiz, Sejal Patel, Maureen Langloss, Sheila Squillante, Hope Wabuke, Jen Michalski) and I've always thought it would be cool to publish there. But I rarely, if ever, write about motherhood. This fictional survey of motherhood from pre-birth to incipient grandmotherhood was inspired by Peg Alford Pursell's request to write something about mothers of grown children. (I was pretty sure she'd take this one for her MOM EGG folio and was surprised when she chose "Cheated" instead. Verifying once again that there's no predicting editorial taste, even when the editor is someone you know.)
Everything published at once: "Medusa Reflects" in So to Speak, "Charlotte's puzzle" in Persimmon tree
Everything always happens at once, but especially now, it seems, when the UK Flash Flood supplied 150 or so great flash to read, and new issues of some stellar flash magazines just came out as well.
First, my flash "Medusa Reflects" in the online feminist journal SO TO SPEAK.
Right on its heels, my very short story "Charlotte's Puzzle" in PERSIMMON TREE. The editors decided to segment the story and I said okay, but now that I see it I think I would have preferred continuous text as in my original version.
My second publication in PERSIMMON TREE. I still like my first story there, "Mary Most Contrary," one of the few I've written that incorporates autobiographical details (maybe the feminist mother I wish I'd had).
I guess I'll hold off on posting these on social media. People will tire of me. The last couple of pubs also made me aware that I have a different audience on Facebook than on Twitter. The flash writers who read me on Twitter seem to prefer my darker, more unconventional stuff (maybe I do too). I feel weirdly reluctant to post stories like "Charlotte" there.
Speaking of Twitter, the flash writer Noa Sivan, whose work I love, and who often writes micros, came up with a list of contemporary flash writers whose work she likes in an interview she did with Tommy Dean. I was so touched to see my name on her list. "Jacqueline Doyle crushes me in less than a 100 words. She's an absolute ace." That should hold me for a while during my discouraged periods.
Steve and I BARTed into San Francisco yesterday to see the René Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA, which was wonderful. Also wandered into a weird and stirring video installation by Ghana-born British artist John Akomfrah called "Sublime Seas." Somehow visual arts are more directly inspiring for my writing than other media.
Love the art folios in MOM EGG REVIEW, SO TO SPEAK, and PERSIMMON TREE. I've always loved book art, and haven't run across Irmari Nacht's before. PERSIMMON TREE includes a number of them. I've pasted in two below.
This is from their editor's introduction: "Irmari Nacht recycles books that might otherwise be discarded; she transforms them into a series she calls 'SAVED.' As she cuts the books, sometimes into slivers that curl and undulate, they return to a tree-like shape, echoing the natural source from which the paper was made. They are often painted, moistened, re-formed, or distressed, and change from utilitarian objects to sculptural art. Since the words on the pages of the books are sliced, slivered, or torn and become interwoven with other slivers and slices, their original meaning is no longer clear. But the words are still there – creating new information now obtained by reading only the letters that are visually available. Lately, her books have exploded from their spines: a four-inch book has grown to 24 inches through a series of cuts and spirals, reaching out to the viewer with subliminal messages."
Discovered this cool new flash zine mac(ro)mic when Kaj Tanaka published a great flash there ("Appendectomy") and decided to send my nonfiction flash "Waiting for BART" and Nicholas Olson accepted it in just under an hour. A great Father's Day acceptance, since it's about Steve and his anxiety after Trump was elected and it's one I like but didn't know where to send because the word "fuck" occurs so many times (it's overheard dialogue but Jeez there's hardly any place where you see the word "fuck").
June 16 is Bloomsday. It's also National Flash Fiction Day in the UK, celebrated with a flood of flash fictions, every 10 minutes for 24 hours, by the one-day phenomenon FLASH FLOOD REVIEW. They take reprints, and chose my story "Cassiopeia" (originally published in 100 Word Story, then in their anthology Nothing Short Of). It went live at 1:00 am PST (9:00 am BST) and I didn't think I'd be up but I was. Exciting to see the tidal wave of stories. Great browsing.
And I got an acceptance of my flash "What Remains" from BENDING GENRES, first place I sent it, a one-day turnaround. Their newest issue is SO good, so I'm looking forward to issue 4 in August. (I think my friend Kathryn Kulpa will be in there too.)
When Peg Alford Pursell asked me to write some flash focusing on mothers of grown children for a folio she was curating, my first thought was no, I'd never write about that. Then I started a nonfiction flash sequence, which I abandoned, then I wrote three fictional flash after all.
The latest online issue of MOM EGG REVIEW is out with Peg's folio, which includes my flash "Cheated." "Cheated" grew out of my experience of identity theft (twice) and two long days at the Social Security offices in Hayward straightening it out. So I'm pretty confident about the accuracy of the setting details. The characters are imagined.
One of the others, "A Nest, a Rock, a Bird," was accepted by LITERARY MAMA, the first place I sent it. I just saw proofs, so it should be out soon. The third has had one rejection (one of my fears, that I'll be rejected by a writer-editor that I know online and really like—but it wasn't so bad after all). Trying to decide where it will fit before I send it out again.
When Peg asked me to suggest writers, I realized that there aren't many flash writers who are the mothers of grown children (I finally suggested two, and one was Dorothy Rice, whom I didn't know, but whose work I'd just discovered when she liked something of mine on Twitter; love her flash "Home Movies" in the folio). There's not much flash out there about motherhood, much less middle-aged mothers.
Tillie Olsen made a list in Silences of all the successful female authors who'd never married and who'd never had children. They far outnumbered those who had. For women with children, "the circumstances for sustained creation [become] almost impossible," Olsen writes. "In the twenty years I bore and reared my children, usually had to work on a paid job as well, the simplest circumstances for creation did not exist." Maybe that's changed somewhat, but maybe not as much as you'd expect.
The lovely cover art at MER VOX Online Quarterly is from a folio of work by the Bronx artist Manny Vega, who's known for his "Byzantine Hip-Hop" public art projects, particularly mosaics. This one depicts his mother.