F(R)ICTION has arrived in my mailbox! I was so excited when the gorgeous and innovative print magazine F(R)ICTION solicited work from me, and when, after a long, long, LONG editorial process, they accepted “The Lunatics’ Ball.” This piece is particularly close to my heart, and will be the opening to my longer project THE LUNATICS’ BALL, if I ever get it off the ground. Very grateful to editors Dani Hedlund and Andrew Jimenez, and particularly to senior editor Kaley Kiermayr, who devoted a great deal of time and attention to this work.
F(R)ICTION has published creative nonfiction by Lee Gutkind and Phillip Lopate, poetry by Kwame Dawes and Mary Ruefle, flash by Kathy Fish and David Galef. They do graphic comics and provide original artwork for each piece. “F(R)ICTION stands out for the sheer kinetic energy of its illustration,” says NEON MAGAZINE. “Drawings spill across every other page in a way that might seem reckless were it not so good-looking.” Their mission: “F(r)iction is different. The brainchild of a ragtag team of editors, artists, and writers, F(r)iction is the best of everything we’ve ever loved. F(r)iction is experimental. F(r)iction is strange. F(r)iction pokes the soft spots, touches nerves most would rather remain protected. F(r)iction is secrets and truths and lies.”
Very cool to see my name gracing the front cover.
In other news, some 800,000 PG&E customers in Northern and Central California will be without power starting at midnight. Castro Valley, where Steve and I live, and Hayward, where we teach, are on the list. I put out a couple of flashlights and some candles and matches, but we're not exactly prepared.
I still don't have a copy, but Sara Lippman (a flash writer in the Wigleaf Top 50, author of DOLL PALACE) just posted a picture of the cover of F(R)ICTION on twitter, commenting on "how the light casts holographic magic" on it, mentioning my story as one of two "powerful gems" in the magazine. When I wrote back, she said, "The Lunatics' Ball is magnificent (and a brilliant book title.…)." I wondered who would see the story in a print magazine, so I'm thrilled to have a writer-reader.
Got my copy of BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2019. Really pleased to see that my friend Alia Volz, the moderator of my San Francisco writers group (and author of the forthcoming book HOME BAKED), has a Notable Essay too! It's one I saw in drafts, and read in RIVER TEETH, which Steve and I subscribe to. Steve has an essay coming out with RIVER TEETH in their next issue.
And another! My friend Frances Lefkowitz (author of TO HAVE NOT), also in my rad writing group, has a Notable for a wonderful essay she published in CATAMARAN LITERARY READER (which we also subscribe to). So cool! CATAMARAN is a gorgeous magazine (lots of art) out of Santa Cruz, and the editors Catherine Segurson and Elizabeth McKenzie are super-nice. They've published Steve twice, me once, and they did a launch party for my chapbook THE MISSING GIRL. Steve and I were in their offsite AWP reading last spring.
What are the odds that any writing group would have three Notables in the same year?
An acceptance at a journal I like a lot, CRACK THE SPINE, of a flash about two fishermen who claim they once caught a mermaid. I'd just finished a revision that added a barmaid's voice and the mermaid's voice to the fisherman's story. I sent the revision to CRACK THE SPINE editor Kerri Farrell Foley, waited for what felt like a long time but was less than a day, and she wrote back that she liked it and would publish the revision. Really pleased.
Woke up this morning to a great photo of THE MISSING GIRL in Lucerne. Genia Blum, a fellow Notable essayist whose essay appeared alongside one of mine in UNDER THE SUN, just got her copy of the chapbook in Switzerland. Such a cool photo.
Closer at hand, another writer friend whom I haven't met in person (Dorothy Rice is in my international online writing group) just read THE MISSING GIRL and did a post on twitter: "I just finished THE MISSING GIRL. A-mazing. A disturbing, important, superbly-crafted read." And a Goodreads review: "Once I started reading, I couldn't put The Missing Girl down. These brief stories of lost girls, told from a variety of chilling perspectives, reveal so much about the vulnerability of young girls and the entitled callousness of those who harm and degrade them. Jacqueline Doyle is skilled at building suspense and presenting believable characters and situations - no matter how harrowing. This is a powerful collection of contextually linked short stories." The book is two years old now. So exciting that it's still attracting new readers.
Dorothy lives in Sacramento and I'm hoping to meet her at Lit Crawl in San Francisco later this month. Who knows when I'll meet Genia, but it would be nice to go to Europe next year.
I've been getting checks in the mail, $100 from CAUSTIC FROLIC, now $40 from F(R)ICTION. I don't keep track of my writing income because the amount is so low (except the $500 from MIDWAY JOURNAL's flash contest, and $500 from BLACK LAWRENCE PRESS's chapbook contest), but this year it's starting to add up. To a few good dinners out, at least.
Still waiting to get a contributor's copy of F(R)ICTION. It exists: here's a picture of one of their staff members (on the right) holding it up at the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday. Really eager to see "The Lunatics' Ball" in print.
My "Felicity" flash is attracting no attention on twitter (did my flash friends read it and dislike it?), where I usually have readers, and much more attention on facebook, where I usually don't. (I'm especially grateful to my overseas writer friend Eden Royce, who wrote, "I adore this.")
I should stop here and thank the 300 twitter followers who liked the post on my BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS nod. Just a little over a week ago I was responding to a flood of warm congratulations, but it already feels like old news. Social media with its artificial highs and lows, sped-up cycles of elation and dejection, probably isn't good for my bipolar soul.
I got a solicitation from RAPAHANNOCK REVIEW! The nonfiction editor likes my piece "The Arithmetic of Memory" in the flash nonfiction issue of LITTLE FICTION/BIG TRUTHS and wants me to send her something. "Move On Up" was just accepted by RHYTHM AND BONES, so I don't really have any flash nonfiction. I'm not sure whether I should send her the 4,000 word essay I just finished revising, or wait until I have something shorter. Still thinking about it. I've had solicitations that didn't pan out in the past, and would like to send something that's right for the magazine.
Despite the huge honor of the Notable listing in BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS, I'm feeling very uncertain about my writing. It's so hard to place work (even flash it seems, which used to be easy), repeated rejections take their toll, I wonder whether my best work is behind me, and whether I believe in the work I'm sending out right now. I'm not as productive as I've been. THE LUNATICS' BALL weighs on me, and I know I should return to my essay collection DO-IT-YOURSELF NIGHT, which was close to ready, and has been languishing for a long time.
I seem to be cycling between elation and dejection here. Maybe all my blog entries are bipolar. Which wouldn't be surprising.
Gary Kaill and Hannah Clark, editors at the new flash zine LUNATE in the UK, wrote a wonderful response on twitter to my flash “Waking Up Late” when it came out in ELLIPSIS: "We absolutely loved this by @doylejacq. Exquisitely sculpted urban anxiety. Troubling, vital, necessary.” So I sent them another flash focusing on urban anxiety. They published “Felicity Leaves the Door Ajar” today on their site. It’s not the first time Emily Dickinson has appeared in one of my flash. A good poet for ramping up anxiety.
I am OVER THE MOON excited that my essay “Haunting Houses” in NEW OHIO REVIEW is included in the Notable Essay Listings in BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2019 (my 5th Notable). So grateful to NOR editor David Wanczyk for publishing the essay, and series editor Robert Atwan and his staff for awarding it a Notable.
NEW OHIO REVIEW is a print journal. Here's a link to the table of contents of the issue with my essay.
Congratulations to the essayists in this year’s anthology, and the other Notable essayists! Lots of names I recognize. Every year it's a crazy scramble to see who's on the list with the Amazon preview feature. There are always pages missing in the preview. This year it's everyone from O-Z. I don't know why BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS doesn't post the list themselves. Maybe to maintain the excitement of the crazy scramble.
I'm working on edits for my two forthcoming flash in CRAFT (and a craft essay on plot to go with them) as well as a new essay right now, but I'm always thinking about where THE LUNATICS' BALL is going, and whether I can pull it together.
I've read Sarah Fawn Montgomery's combined memoir/history of Big Pharma, so I was interested to read her account in ESSAY DAILY of expectations from publishers and fellow students in creative writing workshops: "Early big five publishers were interested in my memoir, but only if I could revise the narrative in a way that offered redemption. While publishers were initially interested in the research—everything from the history of asylums and lobotomies to the chemical science behind contemporary psychopharmaceuticals—they worried this might overwhelm readers. 'What readers want is hope,' an editor said of about my discussion of steadily increasing mental illness rates in the United States despite the increasing number of medications. Recovery was what most publishers thought would sell, and while I agreed, it simply wasn’t possible to revise my life."
Nancy Au, a flash and fiction writer whose work I admire, discusses invisibilities such as her bipolar disorder and the role they play in her work in a recent essay in CRAFT.
"What is the point?" a member of my writing group asked about my draft-in-progress on the history of lobotomies. I often feel inadequate to the task, but I know that bringing back the lost lives of the women I'm writing about is important. Every day I try to "fail better."
I was glad to be asked to do an advance blurb for Cathy Ulrich's wonderful forthcoming book with Okay Donkey Press. Here it is: "A babysitter, a homecoming queen, a teacher, a politician, a jogger. A mother, a daughter, a roommate, a lover. Maybe yours. Maybe you. The murdered girls and women in GHOSTS OF YOU disappear without warning, leaving an absence behind that can never be filled. They’re remembered as something different than they were, their names forgotten. In a dazzling, richly detailed series of thirty-one second-person narratives addressed to ghostly girls and women, Cathy Ulrich unearths their buried lives and the afterlives of those around them. Every single one of them becomes unforgettable. In a culture increasingly inured to violence against women, at a time when women are being systematically disempowered, their bodies and voices erased, stories like these take on particular urgency and importance. GHOSTS OF YOU will haunt you. Don’t miss this stunning debut collection." It's available for preorder here.
Working on the gazillionth draft of my piece on lobotomies for THE LUNATICS' BALL. I was excited to finally find more about Naomi Ginsberg's childhood (in Ed Sanders' poem-biography about Allen Ginsberg), but I'm still finding it hard to get this piece right. Frustrated that my San Francisco writing group keeps flaking out and failing to meet.
So thrilled to learn that my flash essay "Dear Maddy" has been nominated for Best of the Net by THE SUNLIGHT PRESS. Big big thanks to editors Rudri Patel and Beth Burrell.
Congratulations to the other nominees (some whose work I know well, such as Cathy Ulrich and Sabrina Hicks). Here's the full announcement.