I figure I've wanted to publish in FOURTH GENRE for about ten years; I checked and my trusty card file tells me that this was the eighth essay I sent them over that time period (three that they rejected were later Notable Essays in BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS). (I know, I should be using an Excel spread sheet like everyone else., but well-thumbed card files are so tactile and nice.) "On Being Told That Her First Husband" went through a lot of revisions, at least a couple of years worth, before the version they accepted. This is such a big achievement for me. I was so excited when my contributors' copies arrived in the mail yesterday.
I was in the middle of an essay about Lizzie Halliday when I saw a call from the Australian publisher PURE SLUSH BOOKS for poems and flash for an upcoming anthology to be called 100 LIVES. Of course I couldn't resist a fictionalized monologue of the first woman to be sentenced to the electric chair in the U.S., an Irish-American arsonist and serial killer who instead lived out her days at the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. I'd forgotten all about it until my virtual copy arrived today.
Here's a taste: “There are those who say I’ll burn in hellfire for my sins, but I set my own fires, thank you.”
Sometimes a flash starts with a character’s voice, like “Gall,” which came out of nowhere but was inspired by a prompt at Kathy Fish’s Fast Flash Reunion. Thanks to Scott Neuffer at TRAMPSET for publishing “Gall,” and thanks, Kathy Fish and fellow Fast Flashers!
I've had some good news in the past week or so. A micro was accepted at TRAMPSET, a relatively new zine that's published a lot of really great writers. It's one of my voice-driven monologues, coming out next week. And another micro was accepted at ETHEL, which I found because the teacher of the "speculative fiction" class at CREATIVE NONFICTION is co-editor. The micro, a lyric riff on Vivienne Eliot, is part of THE LUNATICS' BALL. Their next issue will be in January; they post online, but it's a hand-made print magazine, which sounds really cool.
But here's the real good news.
I have a tiny micro out in DREAM JOURNAL today. Shawn Berman accepted "End Times" in seven minutes flat (I've had other same-day acceptances, but I think this was a record).
It's a really big honor. I've gotten Notables in the past (this is my sixth) but I didn't have a long essay this year and they don't often feature flash. I've preordered BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2020 from my indie bookseller, as I do every year, but it won't be out until early November.
This morning I got up late after a night of insomnia and found a DM on twitter from Genia Blum in Switzerland saying I was on the list for my short segmented lyric essay "Visitations" in GHOST PROPOSAL. It's 1100 words, somewhat fractured and oblique. I never expected this in a million years. Then I got a DM on twitter a couple of minutes later from Nuala O'Connor in Ireland congratulating me. Then I actually got onto twitter and saw that Paul Crenshaw had noticed my name and J.T. Hill's (as well as his own) on the list, and it was a lovely way to learn about it. There's a partial preview of BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2020 with most of the Notable list on Google Books (in German, because Genia sent it to me), but I should have the book in my hands in a week or two.
Of course I have two pubs out in the same week, after weeks of having no publications at all.
It's always exciting to place a story in one of the first places you send it, and MENACING HEDGE is a magazine I've long admired. This short story (just a shade over flash length, which I consider 1000 words and under) uses a child’s pov, which is rare for me, but this is a pretty sinister little girl. Here's “Where Did Sissy Go?”
Back in March the public university where I teach decided overnight to shift to online teaching. We weren’t allowed to return to our offices. A couple of days later, California began a shelter-in-place. I pretty much stopped writing, and when I started up again, I started writing micros about (go figure) death. When I put them together in an essay in July, I sent it out to only two magazines, and I was thrilled when Chauna Craig at ATTICUS REVIEW promptly accepted it. It’s been a few months since it was accepted and I’ve started (slowly) writing about other things. It’s a thrill to appear in ATTICUS REVIEW for the third time. Here’s “Last Medley.”
Heard from two writers whose writing I admire tremendously, both of whom taught my work this week. Kaj Tanaka taught THE MISSING GIRL in his chapbook class and told me on twitter that "ppl loved it...that book continues to be such a powerful and important work about trauma and sexual violence." And Jill Talbot private messaged me on twitter today. "This week my beginning nonfiction students read 'Little Colored Pills' (we read about seven or eight essays each week). In their discussions, it was unanimous that your essay was the favorite of the week and for many, their favorite they've read this semester. It is such an engaging triptych with its disparate segments that coalesce so beautifully in the final lines (which many students quoted). I enjoyed addressing all of the effective craft elements at work in the piece, too. Just wanted to pass along that you have fans here. With admiration, Jill"
Still having trouble applying myself to my writing. I do a little here, a little there, mostly on LUNATICS' BALL essays-in-progress. The work for CRAFT becomes more and more interesting and challenging though. And I stayed up late last night critiquing a creative writing master's thesis, really good creative nonfiction, also a challenging and interesting task. A rare thing to have work you enjoy so much.