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.
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.