It's been a mixed day, which started with a bummer of a rejection of a flash that was solicited. It's the first rejection, I still want to tinker with the end anyway, so it's not all that discouraging. Still, I hoped for better.
I'm at this amazing Bending Genres retreat in Ojai and missed all of yesterday because of a killer migraine. Worried that it could be covid, which added to my general misery, but was greatly relieved when I tested negative. Today after two cups of tea, lots of gatorade and some Tylenol I feel almost human. Went to our last gatherings and reading. (My first reading of "Lunatic Impromptu" helped me decide on some cuts.) Looking forward to dinner at a posh restaurant with the participants.
And I just heard from Jill Talbot, a writer I've admired for years, that she's teaching "Haunting Houses" in her class on "Lyric Hauntings" at the University of North Texas. She's taught "Little Colored Pills" in the past as well, and I'm so honored!
The view from our bedroom in Ojai.
A friend in my flash group just wrote to me yesterday that she received two acceptances for the same flash in the same day but had already written to the first one. Now something similar happened to me.
I did some withdrawals of "Champagne" after it was accepted at TRAMPSET. Originally I sent it somewhere after a solicitation, and when they were taking much much longer than the few days they'd promised (I still haven't heard from them, and it's been a couple of months), I sent it out to just a handful of other places. When I withdrew it from one of them, a really cool print magazine, they wrote back that they'd accepted it! Hadn't I gotten the email? I hadn't. They don't use submittable. I checked my spam and didn't see it. I had submitted via email, so I think it would have been in that email string, but it wasn't. I think it must have slipped the editor's mind. Would have been a nice publication, but I love TRAMPSET, so all is well. Maybe I'll place something in the other mag when they reopen in December.
Often in the past I've had flash to spare, but lately I haven't been writing flash at all, so just about nothing is out. I decided against revising a couple that I just wrote in Kathy Fish's class. Hope to get something from the Ojai retreat. One good flash would be enough to make me happy.
Yay! My nonfiction flash "Champagne" was accepted at TRAMPSET, and will be published in late October. This one's short, just over 500 words, but the frame went through a million revisions over time. I knew it was a story I wanted to tell. Love TRAMPSET, where I've published once before ("Gall"), so I'm thrilled it will be published there.
We leave in less than a week for Ojai, where I'll be doing a week-long generative writing retreat with Bending Genres (Robert Vaughan and Meg Tuite and lots of flash writers I know). Steve's coming along for hiking and trips to LA (I'd love to go to the Matisse exhibit too but can't). Our son Ben was supposed to be in Malaysia, but he had to cancel/put off his trip because he got covid three weeks ago. His doctor gave him the all-clear today, but he's been quarantining in his room behind our detached garage, we've been leaving his meals on the table out back where he picks them up. We haven't had any in person contact at all. Now that he has the all clear I'd sort of like to spend time with him. He's leaving for a year in Scotland in September and doesn't expect he'll live in the US again after that. But I'm still looking forward to the retreat. I haven't done anything like this for quite a while and I like my fellow students and Ojai with its mountains and "pink moment" and healing vibes looks interesting and the inn with its meditation garden and waterfall looks beautiful. We'll see if I write anything.
I was ready to retire "What Grows on Trees" without looking for a place to publish it (feeling at a loss for a market for an expository flash). It has generated so much buzz, despite coming out in a magazine most writers don't read, that I'm thinking about personal essays as a genre, and my longer personal essays about my family. I put my project DO IT YOURSELF NIGHT aside for THE LUNATICS' BALL, which I thought wouldn't take very long. Could I revive that without losing momentum with my lunatics? It was so close, and a lot of those essays were Notables in BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS.
Decided to move "What Grows on Trees" to my nonfiction page, instead of listing it on my flash page. Somehow hadn't thought about the distinction before. I think we publish both at CRAFT in the Creative Nonfiction flash category. I often reject short pieces that feel like "op-eds" to me. But there's also a difference between a personal essay and an op-ed.
Someone said something about trees this morning in her praise of my essay at CURRENT, which led me to seek out the wonderful anthology I was in at Outpost 19: ROOTED. I discovered that they're soliciting for a second volume which will include new work and also some of the original essays (fingers crossed that my essay "Saving Trees" is one of them, since I've always loved it).
I have a new, very short personal essay out today: "What Grows on Trees" in CURRENT.
I had such a nice experience with them from start to finish. They're really a political magazine with occasional personal essays. Their associate editor Robert Erle Berham solicited work from me, with really nice things to say about "Little Colored Pills." I amplified "What Grows on Trees" to add some sociopolitical context and sent it to him, he forwarded it to the coeditor in chief Eric Miller, who accepted it right away with some very nice comments about the essay, made a few copy edits, and it was up within a few days. It's a site where everyone seems to have a PhD so I listed mine in my short bio.
I wasn't sure where to send it at all, and that has me reflecting about the difference between a flash and a personal essay. I was worried that it was too expository, and it's too expository for a flash (and wouldn't really work in a flash magazine either) but not for an essay. I guess I'll put it on my flash page, since it's under 1000 words, but I don't think it belongs there. Thinking about my publications in the last year or two: "Mid-Century Modern" and "My Mother's Suitcases," both short, are really essays too. Is flash more narrative and imagistic, the essay structured around ideas?
I was solicited for a short personal essay by a mostly political magazine that pays for essays they solicit. Solicits don't always work out, so I'll be more specific if this one does. Mostly I'm very pleased that the editor admires "Little Colored Pills" and found me. (Was it through "Sunday Short Reads," I wonder?) "In any case, this is an occasion to say how much I admire and enjoy your work. 'Little Colored Pills' is remarkable, and it’s an all-time favorite in the genre."
In the meantime our latest CNF pub at CRAFT, Ross Showalter's "Deaf Rage" is off the charts in twitter response (over 300 likes on Ross's post and climbing), which is exciting. I've been CNF editor there for just over two years and I'm proud of the body of CNF we've assembled.
Yay! An acceptance of my lurid flash "Little Dove" at GONE LAWN! Should be out soon. Big thanks to Owen Wyke and Amy Barnes (who's recently joined as coeditor)! I saw on twitter that they were finalizing their next issue and wanted a few more pieces.
I published a cnf pandemic piece in GONE LAWN last year that was very different ("Ready or Not").
The second issue of Zvi Sesling's 10 By 10 is out with my flash "Disappearing Act" and flash by Kathryn Kulpa and Gay Degani (both in my informal flash group), along with other well-known writers. (The first issue included Kathy Fish, Paul Beckman, Robert Scotellaro, Francine Witte, and Jayne Martin, among others.) When Gay and Kathryn urged me to submit, I somehow failed to see that this is something new, an e-mail magazine rather than an online zine. So the second issue has gone out to 427 people. The next issue will go out to more, and he'll also send them the first and second issues. Not quite sure how this will work. While online zines summon an audience of far more than 427, there may not be that many actual readers. Such a weird business we're in.
My oddball, segmented CNF flash "A Dress with Pockets, or Mediterranean Vistas" is up at THE DISAPPOINTED HOUSEWIFE. Big thanks to editor Kevin Brennan. And to Kathy Fish and the other fast flashers in her flash memoir class, who inspired me. A perfect fit: the class, the dress, the journal.
From the mission statement of THE DISAPPOINTED HOUSEWIFE: "Yet there is a place for 'high risk' writing, fresh, creative, experimental, idiosyncratic, idiomatic, iconoclastic writing. Writers should be allowed to have their quirks. They need blank canvases that don’t have predetermined dimensions."