This year felt less productive than last year, and filled with rejections, but when I tallied up my publications, it turns out that I did really well, with twenty flash publications (eleven last year), three creative nonfiction essays (three last year), four short stories (one last year). Most exciting is that I’ve had essays and flash accepted at a number of literary journals that I thought were out of reach. My Pushcart nominations this year were from journals I was floored to even get into (The Gettysburg Review! Wigleaf! New Flash Fiction Review!). I had my first Finalist listings in Best Small Fictions. I was awarded my fourth Notable listing in Best American Essays. I have work in two great anthologies (from Black Lawrence Press and Outpost 19).
I’m continued to get great reviews of my chapbook The Missing Girl. The reading and chapbook signing with Black Lawrence at AWP last spring was so much fun. The chapbook and anthologies and just gradually becoming known as a flash writer in the Bay Area led to fourteen readings this year, far more than I’ve ever done before.
Thank you to all the editors who published my flash and essays and short stories and nominated me for awards this year, and to all the readers who supported my achievements, and to all the writers who inspired me. I’m filled with gratitude. May your new year be wonderful. HAPPY 2019!
Just as I was reflecting on my end-of-year writing summation (to come), a flurry of activity today.
My flash friend Kathryn Kulpa recused herself from consideration of my flash "Dark Hallway" at CLEAVER but stepped in after it was accepted pending revisions suggested by the outside readers. I made some of the revisions, resisted a major one at the end, sent two alternate drafts to Kathryn, who agreed about the end, and made SUCH helpful suggestions. It's rare that editing yields such wonderful results. The flash has become what it wanted to be (what I hoped it would be).
And then I opened twitter and discovered that Robert Vaughan and the other editors at BENDING GENRES had nominated my tiny flash fiction "What Remains" for BEST SMALL FICTIONS 2019. I'm thrilled both by the nomination, and the company. The other nominees are Brianne M. Kohl, Gaynor Jones, Jennifer Todhunter, and Kaj Tanaka. A wonderful way to end the year.
My flash fiction "Framed" was supposed to be out in JUKED in December, but it looks like that's not happening. Next month maybe.
In the meantime I discovered a new zine that reprints pieces from journals that have disappeared. My flash nonfiction "At the End" is out in DEFUNCTED today. I'm particularly pleased with the illustration I found, one of Edvard Munch's many deathbed paintings (probably of his sister). That was an amazing exhibit at SFMOMA.
Ages ago I did a mini-interview with Dan Wickett for the Dzanc Books Emerging Writers Network. It was an ambitious project, to post interviews with all of the writers who'd published short story collections in the U.S. in 2017 for short story month. He had health problems and didn't get all of the interviews posted until now. Here's the interview, somewhat out of date.
I'm wondering whether my Lunatics project may divide itself into several separate projects, but I'm still interested in a nonfiction flash series on women who were incarcerated in mental asylums. I've written about several nineteenth-century lunatics already, after research on the Willard Suitcases project, Lucy Ann Lobdell, Lorina Bulwell, Nellie Bly's undercover journalism on Blackwell's. Lately I've been reading a fascinating book on Charcot and hysteria. This advice in a recent interview by the essayist Elisa Gabbert seems useful. I've never written 5,000 words in a day, but a flash, yes.
"I just turned in a manuscript, another collection of essays, and the way I wrote that was very specific: For between one and three months, depending on my time constraints, I’d surround myself with, or submerse myself in, material on a topic—for example nuclear disasters, or 'hysteria,' or memory—and read and watch films and think and take tons of notes. Then after a while the essay would start to take shape in my mind. I’d outline a structure, and then block off time to write it. As this process got systematized, I became more efficient; for the last essay I finished, I wrote most of it, about 5,000 words, in a single day. It was pretty much my ideal writing day: I got up relatively early on a Saturday morning and wrote until dark. Then I poured a drink and read over what I’d written. Of course I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t give myself plenty of processing time."
In fact that's how I wrote my flash sequence on Freud's Dora a few years back, which followed several days of immersion in Freud's case study and research about it and French feminist critiques. I'd love to maintain that balance between research and lyric riff in these new flash, which sometimes feel too prosy and academic to me.
The interview got me interested in reading Elisa Gabbert, and I already love her essay "The Point of Tangency: On Digression."
A very uncharacteristic flash with a dog and a happy ending, inspired by a prompt at the Kathy Fish Fast Flash Extravaganza. I really had no idea where to send "The Red Ball," so I was pleased when it was accepted by the cool Irish zine THE CABINET OF HEED. Coming out in mid-January.
A mantra for the new year, something I just read in an interview with Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, whose book THE FACT OF A BODY I really liked:
"Just revise, revise, revise, revise, revise. Also, it’s important to know that doubt is not fatal. This is advice for those of us who have a tendency to really doubt or critique the work before it’s even found its fledgling voice on the page. You can do the work even through doubt. Even while feeling the doubt. It’s important to acknowledge that the doubt might be a reflection of your own fear and not a reflection of the quality of the work. Some days are awesome, and you feel all the strength and power, and think, 'I can totally write this story!' And other days are not like that at all. But that’s what I would recommend: Don’t allow the doubt to prevent you from writing."
I got my grades in on Tuesday night. My study is a sea of paper and folders, revised and half-revised Lunatics flash, various versions of the end of the newly-revised-but-not-yet-finished long essay on Hartmut's death, and I have no idea what to send to F(R)ICTION though it's been a while since they solicited work. I'm not feeling inclined to revise or to write this week, and I'm still worried about how the Lunatics flash will fit together, but all that's okay, right?
So strange that NOR: NEW OHIO REVIEW used this Van Gogh painting of the asylum in the South of France where he was hospitalized when they posted an excerpt from my essay "Haunting Houses" on Facebook, and then THE NASIONA used the same painting when they posted Steve's new essay "I Saw It All." And here I am writing about lunatic asylums.
On Wednesday, I googled Steve's name, which I never do, and ran into Tupelo Hassman's Facebook and twitter posts on Steve's NASIONA essay just hours after she'd put them up. He discovered her email about the essay when he got home, an email partly about cosmic coincidences. Of which there are many.
It’s arrived! It’s always flattering to have a story solicited by an editor who already likes your work. So I’m particularly pleased to have my short story “The Snows of Yesteryear” in THE OCEAN STATE REVIEW, an annual print journal affiliated with the University of Rhode Island that has published writers such as Robin Hemley, Denise Duhamel, David Lazar, Nicole Walker, Patricia Smith, Melanie Rae Thon, Michael Martone, Lia Purpura, Rosmarie Waldrop, and Keith Waldrop (who was a mentor when I went to Brown years ago). Many thanks to editor Charles Kell.
So "Ugly Shoes" is attracting more and more attention, lots of retweets and wonderful comments and today Kathy Fish not only called it "brilliant" and retweeted it (praising its "fractured excellence"), she also asked whether she could teach it in her class! A great start to my birthday, which will close with dinner with Steve and Ben at a cool restaurant in Hayward we've never been to before (Neumanali). Lots of blessings today, though I realize from the twitter comments that I will henceforth be known as the writer with bunions. There seems also to be a bunions bot called Rob that's activated every time someone mentions the word (actually I have no idea how bots work), so he's all over my page right now.
"Ugly Shoes" is here, in issue 4 of BARREN MAGAZINE. Looking forward to reading some authors in the issue that I devotedly follow (Tara Isabel Zambrano, Justin Karcher) and to discovering new ones. Love the photography.
Or maybe double isn't the right word. Someone who shares my name just liked my author page. The other Jacqueline Doyle lives in Kent and does not appear to be a writer. Spooked as I am by doubles, I was particularly spooked by her picture (left). Steve and I will be reading from our collaborative essay on doubles and imaginary friends and "Borges and I" at AWP in March.