Just discovered that Paul Beckman has posted the FBomb Flash reading from last November on YouTube. My reading, of my two most recent CNF flash, starts at 1:47:23, but the whole reading's great. Love this series.
And yesterday I got a check for $300 in the mail from EPOCH! Very exciting. Can't wait to get my copy of the journal.
Did I do a cover reveal here? Here's the cover, which I love. It's the spring issue but will be out, I think, later this month. I'm completely intimidated to see that two of the four CNF contributors are well-established writers whose work I know well. Maybe the third also. And then there's me.
Every year the UK journal FICTIVE DREAM does a Flash Fiction February series with new flash every day. I'm thrilled to have work accepted by editor Laura Black for the fifth year running, my sixth publication in FICTIVE DREAM. It always feels like a party, and I love the illustrations by artist Claudia McGill. As ever, there are many flash writers I know on the roster. Looking forward to it!
I think particularly because I was a professor for so many years, and taught contemporary lit classes, among others, and creative nonfiction workshops and flash workshops, among others, I am always thrilled to death to hear that my work is being taught in classrooms. William Woolfitt at Lee University, whose work I admire no end, just said on Twitter that he's teaching "The Madwoman on BART" this semester in his class on "Creating Memorable Characters," where he will ask his students to write micros.
Just got page proofs for my essay forthcoming in THE PINCH, which makes me feel productive, even though I'm not producing new writing at the moment. I wrote "Dear Mary Todd Lincoln" last summer in Ojai, when I'd left all the research at home that was weighing me down. THE LUNATICS' BALL requires so much research, and it's so hard to know how to include it, and to find a voice that's not just academic. Maybe that's a practice I should continue—going away somewhere without my notes.
No news about my writing, except that I'm struggling to get back to it. I missed a meeting of my San Francisco writing group for the first time I can remember because I'm sick, I don't have new work ready, I'm so unbelievably busy with my duties at CRAFT. Acceptances (and a long list of near-acceptances while I worried about our March and May longform slots), getting manuscripts edited, getting edited manuscripts with notes to authors, fielding their responses, editing their author's notes, fielding their responses, working collaboratively with the EIC and my editorial assistants on edits, writing introductions for publications. What else? I think there must be more, but mostly I'm juggling more projects simultaneously than I ever have at the magazine, I think as a result of our two-week "vacation." I haven't even gotten to the first batch of contest reads yet.
What did I do on my vacation? We flew to Scotland, had fun for a day or two before both Steve and I got COVID. We didn't have fevers, but it was pretty miserable nevertheless, and in order to comply with the regulation five-day isolation period in Scotland we had to take separate hotel rooms in a hotel by the airport when our Airbnb ran out. Ben took care of us until then and somehow managed to avoid getting COVID himself.
And then, less than week after we finally got home, I had the worst tooth pain I've ever experienced and had an emergency root canal, which I thought would fix things but hasn't. Apparently pain can persist long after the root canal. Who knew?
Ben meanwhile continued in his travels, first to Paris (where he went to a Harvard classmate's wedding), then to Barcelona, now to Oxford. He knows I'm fascinated by Black Virgins, and when he was hiking in the mountains in Catalonia, he took a picture of the Black Virgin of Montserrat at the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery. I have decided to make her my patron saint for the year 2023. I seem to need one particularly this year.
Below, a picture of Ben in Paris, the picture he sent me of the Black Virgin.
As often happens when I'm busiest, I've managed to fit in a rewrite of my latest flash and hope to send it out before we leave for Christmas in Scotland. I've also been working on the growing stack of Sylvia Plath books for the Lunatics' Ball flash.
I've been juggling collaborative edits on three forthcoming publications at CRAFT (usually they're spaced out). Got two out to their authors, one is still in progress. I have a number of submissions I'm not sure about. Early January will be busy. We start our contest reads then also.
And I just got an opportunity today that I think will be a good thing (though my first reaction, of course, was no, that will be a lot of work). Maybe not too much work. Definitely interesting. More when plans are firmer.
I put together my year-end summary dejected about a recent flash rejection, thinking that nothing else would be happening very soon, and this morning I got a bombshell acceptance from Jill Talbot. She's accepting my flash "Little Colored Pills" (originally in Sweet, reprinted in Creative Nonfiction's "Sunday Short Reads") for her upcoming anthology from Columbia University Press, ESSAY FORM(S), and will include "Haunting Houses" (originally in New Ohio Review, also a Notable in Best American Essays) on a supplemental reading list in one of the other chapters.
I consider myself sort of an ex-academic, but I have tremendous respect for university presses and sites where the creative and the academic overlap. So I'm thrilled to be included in an anthology like this one. And thrilled to be in an anthology edited by Jill Talbot, whose work I've admired forever, and who will be writing craft essays for each section.
Here's a description of the project:
What are the different forms of the essay, what constitutes each form, and how do essayists know when to choose one over another?
In writing essays, we make decisions about which stories we will tell, but we must also decide how to shape them. The form of an essay enhances its meaning, placing it in conversation with the content. This craft book, which will be published by Columbia University Press in 2023, will include both art (essays) and craft (brief explanations) to define and elucidate each form.
Essayists have a myriad of choices with regard to form when writing, and formal choices elevate the level of sophistication in the work, transcending “what happened,” the literal, toward the literary.
The forms included in this book will include: Abecedarian, Anaphoric, Borrowed Form, Braided, Bracketed, Collage, Collaborative, Column, Diptych, Enumerated, Epistolary, Experimental, Flash, Fragmented, Hybrid, List, One Sentence, Paragraph, Research/Personal Hybrid, Segmented, Triptych, and Traditional Narrative.
Here's her email (I was also so touched to hear that "Haunting Houses" was a success in her class on "Lyric Hauntings"):
Great news! I have selected "Little Colored Pills" as a feature essay for the Triptych chapter of The Essay Form(s). Though you didn't submit it, I'd also like to include "Haunting Houses" as Supplemental Reading in a chapter. I've been trying to decide: Research/Personal essay? Braided? Segmented? It's all three, but which category do you think of it as the most? I feel of it as Braided—the personal, the film, the literary allusions.
By the way, my students listed "HH" as one of the favorites of the semester yesterday during our final class. The supplemental reading list will include the citation at the end of the chapter.
"Little Colored Pills" will appear with two other triptychs (a triptych!). When I make that final selection, I can let you know.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Just so happy. I'm starting to work on something new (toted a 1000-page biography of Sylvia Plath home from the library yesterday, and a collection of letters equally large). I've been immersed in Janet Malcolm's book on Plath and writing biographies (probably irrelevant to what I'm writing, but a really good read). It feels good to set aside the rewrites that I couldn't motivate myself to do. I know I've done a lot of work on The Lunatics' Ball this year. But I've been feeling like my year-end achievements didn't add up to much. This feels very good.
Also, I worked at Columbia University Press, years ago, and lived just around the corner.
THANK YOU to the following journals and their editors and staffs for publishing my work this year:
EPOCH (accepted, forthcoming)
The Pinch (accepted, forthcoming)
Flash Fiction and Nonfiction:
Our Pandemic (anthology)
10 By 10
The Disappointed Housewife
Thank you to Kevin Brennan of The Disappointed Housewife for a Best of the Net nomination. Thank you to Robert Atwan and his staff at Best American Essays 2022 for including my essay from Superstition Review in Notable Essays of 2021, my 8th Notable and a great honor.
My thanks to Cameron Finch for interviewing me at Tiny Molecules. And to Ingrid Rojas Contreras for allowing me to interview her for CRAFT.
I’ve done a lot of writing this year on a long WIP that’s barely represented here (the Permafrost and forthcoming EPOCH and Pinch publications are from The Lunatics’ Ball). And my productivity has also slowed down a lot. I probably have more time than I did previously, but the pandemic has weighed on me. Many thanks to my San Francisco writing group The Leporine Conspiracy for keeping me afloat, to my online flash group and various beta readers. You are all greatly appreciated.
And thank you to my readers and the wonderfully supportive online literary communities I’ve found on Facebook and Twitter. Your encouragement and your own writing inspires me.
I’ve also been greatly engaged in my duties as Creative Nonfiction Editor at CRAFT Literary Journal. I’m very proud of the stellar longform essays and flash nonfiction we published this year, and that CRAFT was recognized with two essays on the Notable Essays list in Best American Essays 2022, a huge achievement for any journal, but particularly an online journal and such a relatively new one. We started publishing creative nonfiction in fall 2020, and have already had three Notables. Many thanks to the fantastic editor-in-chief and fellow editors and readers that I work with at CRAFT and all of our amazing writers.
I participated in a few flash readings this year (two FBomb readings in NY/Zoom, one Flash Fiction Forum reading in San Jose/Zoom), and introduced Myna Chang, a wonderful flash writer, at our first ever CRAFT “salon,” where Ingrid Rojas Contreras read a mesmerizing excerpt from her memoir The Man Who Could Move Clouds. I’m so pleased that she’ll be this year’s judge for our creative nonfiction contest.
I took two classes this year. As ever, I loved Kathy Fish’s Fast Flash class and this year’s reunion. I wish I hadn’t gotten sick at the Bending Genres retreat at Ojai (not COVID at least). I really appreciated working with Robert Vaughan and Meg Tuite, nevertheless. And with fellow writers in both classes and the reunion.
This is the second time that my husband Steve got a Notable in Best American Essays the same year that I did! We also read one of our collaborative stories together at one of the FBomb readings. Not a writing achievement, but the two of us have dodged COVID so far, and hope we can manage to stay healthy on our upcoming trip to Scotland to see our son, our first real travel since the pandemic started.
Wishing all of you a healthy, happy, productive new year.
[photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash]
Assembling my year-end summary and I discovered that the anthology that's reprinting one of my pandemic essays is out: OUR PANDEMIC, edited by Theresa Green (The Writer's Workout). Don't know whether I'm getting a copy. I'd love to see it, since they allowed color illustrations, and I gave them a very cool medieval mural of Death playing chess.
"Often During the Pandemic" was originally published in LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID.
I got a flash acceptance today on the flash I kept rewriting. Can't announce where until January but it's a relief to have placed it (and somewhere I really want to publish). And within minutes I got a rejection of a brand new flash that I'd sent out immediately after finishing it a few days ago. I thought it had a good chance and I was crushed.
Almost time for a year-end summary of what I've accomplished in my writing in 2022 and right now I feel like it's been nothing. Not really true. I have two major pubs, both from THE LUNATICS' BALL, coming out in winter and spring 2023. But when I started writing ten years ago I was so much more productive! And right now I feel stalled on THE LUNATICS' BALL, unable to advance until I finish some rewrites, unable to motivate myself to do them.
Great to see "Cutting Edge" featured in the online roundup of essays in the weekly newsletter "Memoir Monday." I used to read every single essay every week, but they feature 10+ longform essays, and I have tons of reading for CRAFT as it is, so lately I browse and read just a few.
Feeling very unproductive lately, not writing for days at a time, making very little progress on The Lunatics' Ball, also stuck on a flash fiction that I have worked to death but need to finish for a deadline by the end of December at the very latest. Too many cooks. I've submitted it to my online flash group, to my San Francisco group, to a virtual friend who's an excellent flash writer, to my San Francisco group again. Everyone seems to have different ideas and only now have I really defined my character's feelings. Which still doesn't hand me the great ending I want for the flash. Maybe I should write a brand new one, but I'm not feeling inspired at all.