Steve and I both read last night in the Lit Crawl event for 100 WORD STORY's great anthology NOTHING SHORT OF: SELECTED TALES FROM 100 WORD STORY. Wonderful venue (the art gallery Creativity Explored), wonderful audience with lots of friends, wonderful readers—Ethel Rohan, Cornelia Nixon, Peg Alford Pursell, along with editors Lynn Mundell, Grant Faulkner, and Beret Olsen, who were able to read a few more stories from writers who weren't there. Steve and I were able to catch Lyndsey Ellis and Cocoafly readers in the first leg, and eat some great tapas with friends after our reading.
Emily Devane, a writer whose flash fiction I love, has reviewed THE MISSING GIRL for the journal SHORT FICTION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE. The review of four books is only available in print, in the UK, but she was nice enough to send it to me when I asked. Here's what she says: "Jacqueline Doyle’s ‘The Missing Girl’, holds a mirror up to the girls who become victims of neglect, of abduction, of predatory male behaviour. The eight stories within are gut-punch short. Doyle uses second person daringly, so that the reader is forced to become the potential abductor: ‘watch her blush as she turns wondering eyes to you’ (The Missing Girl, p.2). Next, the reader is the hit upon girl on a Hawaiian-themed boat trip, several piña coladas down: ‘Whoops, he says, sorry, but he doesn’t look sorry, and you know you should leave now but you don’t.’ (Hula pp.11-12). ‘My Blue Heaven’, a piece of fragmentary flash about an older man whose affair with a young girl ends bloodily, takes on several voices, including the man, his wife, the friend, the motel clerk – the victim, Molly’s, is conspicuous by its absence: literally, she becomes ‘the missing girl’ of the title. The final story in the collection, ‘Nola’, tells the disturbing tale of a woman still regretful at her part in her friend’s disappearance: ‘Nola never did come back, did she?’ (Nola, p.26) This is a powerful collection, with razor sharp stories that linger."
This comes at a good time, because my publications are lagging. Three on the horizon, which is not a lot, and many rejections of flash that I thought would not be so hard to place. Steve and I will read in Lit Crawl on Saturday, which will be fun, but that's also the only reading I have lined up. I'm writing, but it's a potentially long flash project that may never see the light of day. Teaching is taking a lot of my time. End of complaints.
IIt's been a year since my chapbook THE MISSING GIRL arrived in the mail, and today I'm grateful to Black Lawrence Press and so many others: the literary journals who published my flash and nominated me for awards, the Bay Area bookstores who are selling THE MISSING GIRL, my writing group in San Francisco for their critiques and unflagging support, writers who took the time to write blurbs or review the book (so many more than I expected!)—and all the READERS who have responded to the book, those I know, and those I don't know. (Love the twitter flash community. This year I met two flash writers in person that I never would have otherwise. Looking forward to meeting more in Portland at AWP.) I'm filled with gratitude at what a great year it has been for my little book.
I've been feeling discouraged lately. A long essay I can't seem to wrestle into shape, a flurry of rejections (some for three flash at a time) after long waits. Dejected that an autobiographical flash that I really liked this year didn't make that magazine's Best of the Net nominations. The national news has been so stressful this week; my response has been visceral.
So MIDWAY JOURNAL's email yesterday was a welcome surprise. Not sure how the dates work for these nominations (my story there, which won their Flash/Poetry Contest a year ago, and won a Finalist listing in Best Small Fictions 2018, was published in October 2017), but I was thrilled to hear that their fiction editor Ralph Pennel has nominated "Zig Zag" for Sundress Publication's BEST OF THE NET 2018.
Such a great reading! And a surprising number of writers I know were in the audience. The poet Kathleen McClung posted on Facebook: "OMG, what a great reading tonight at Why There Are Words in Sausalito! Every writer rocked the house. Special shout-out to Jacqueline Doyle, who read 'My Blue Heaven,' from her superb book, The Missing Girl. My students and I LOVE this book."
WTAW posted some great pictures. The one on the right is my favorite because it was so much fun to co-read "My Blue Heaven" (which has male and female voices) with Steve.
This is my fourth Notable listing with BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS (2013, 2015, 2017, 2018). The first was the most amazing. They don't contact you, I never imagined such an honor, and I only found out because SWEET published a list of their former contributors with Notables on their home page. But each has been very exciting.
I'm hoping to include all four essays in DO-IT-YOURSELF NIGHT, the collection I'm working on. Or not working on. I think I've been dragging my feet (I keep writing new "last" essays to complete a narrative arc) because I'm so reluctant to launch the next phase: finding a publisher.
Reading tonight with some other Black Lawrence Press authors at Studio 333 in Sausalito, a beautiful gallery where I read a year ago in the Why There Are Words series. A bit of a trek at rush hour for those who don't live nearby, but the series seems to have a strong local following and I'm really looking forward to it.
Excited to learn from a writer on Twitter that he taught my flash in POST ROAD "The Professor's Chair" when he was a T.A. in his MFA program. I ran across Samuel J. Adams because I loved his recent story in MONKEYBICYCLE and posted it. When he followed me back he said, "Thank you so much! At the end of my MFA, I had the great pleasure of sharing "The Professor's Chair" with creative writing undergrads and they loved it. I'm a fan!" And then elaborated, "I think the lesson was some version of 1) creating an intriguing voice 2) absurdist escalation 3) 'See! Not all cool stories are old! Not all good authors are dead!'"
Feeling gloomy about how dark my flash tends to be, but that one wasn't, and I did another in my writer's group last night that isn't either. So where to send this new one? (I never would have guessed that the super-prestigious print magazine POST ROAD would have been the place for "The Professor's Chair," so it's always hard to tell.) It seems most of the zines I follow like weird, dark, and experimental, not what I'm writing at the moment.
I've been feeling stalled—not at a standstill, still writing sporadically, but aimlessly. Picking up old pieces that need revision or completion, my attention scattered. But I just completed a long creative nonfiction essay that was an old, unfinished one with updates interspersed (learning from Ryan Van Meter's manipulation of time and the future in his essays in IF YOU KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW, which I just taught). And I'm jazzed about another project that I'm just starting to work on. Not sure what shape it will assume, but I'm involved in these flash about female "lunatics" of the nineteenth century, and the research I'm doing into early treatments of the mad.
Nervous about my cnf flash coming out in SWEET soon, which gave me permission to start excavating this subject and its personal significance.
Steve and I are in a reading tonight for the super anthology THEY SAID: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing, at 7:30 at Green Apple Books on the Park in San Francisco. It will be fun (but difficult logistically because sometimes we trade off single lines) to read this strange essay we wrote together several years ago. There will be many great writers from the anthology reading also. (And readings with other great writers in many other cities to come.)
And next week I'll read with other Black Lawrence Press authors in the WTAW Series in Sausalito: Thursday, September 13, 7:15 pm, Studio 333, 333 Caledonia St., Sausalito. Rush hour's not a great time to drive there, but there's beautiful scenery, wonderful restaurants, if you can leave early. Since they put out my chapbook, I'm hoping to read some stories from THE MISSING GIRL that I haven't read before.
Stay tuned for information about the 100 Word Story event at LitCrawl in October (Steve and I will both be reading).
In an article about Georgia O'Keeffe I ran across this comment: “'It is difficult to see my new painting…It isn’t really of this country and it doesn’t exist for this place and it isn’t exciting.' Even so, she decided to keep at it: 'I think it will come,' she continued. '[Though] it may not be anything for anyone but me.'” Which made me think about this nonfiction flash sequence I just finished, which isn't exciting and maybe in the end may not be anything for anyone but me. Do we always seek emotional urgency in creative nonfiction? Maybe. But it was weirdly fun to write about mundane things in a flat voice. I'm edgy because the first place I sent it hasn't responded and I thought they would have by now.
Enjoying all the attention that "Pretty Girl" is getting on twitter, but my impostor syndrome has kicked in, asking how I could possibly deserve this. Some new readers of the chapbook have been praising it, and that's very cool, almost a year after it came out.
My flash fiction "Pretty Girl" is out today in a grand new issue of NEW FLASH FICTION REVIEW, which has published all the flash fiction heavies, and doesn't disappoint in this issue, which includes (in order of appearance) work by Tara Isabel Zambrano, A.E. Weisgerber, Kara Vernor, Cathy Ulrich, Helen Rye, Jayne Martin, Sara Lippman, Stephanie Hutton, Paul Beckman, Paul Crenshaw, Dan Crawley and many more. It's like a big party and twitter is celebrating with praise and retweets and general festivity. Really happy to be included here. Big thanks to editors Meg Pokrass, Al Kratz, and Tino Prinzi.