Kathy Fish is using a lottery system for her classes because the wait lists are so long, and I was just informed that I got into the first session of her Fast Flash Workshop. It runs from February 11 to 22, when I'll be teaching, and I'm a bit nervous about that, but my husband points out that I often do my best work when I'm pressed for time. I just placed one of the flash I wrote in her Fast Flash Extravaganza at THE CABINET OF HEED (with two more that I really like seeking homes), her prompts always catch me off balance in just the right way, her flash community is full of great, well-published flash writers. This will be fun!
Sophie van Llewyn does great craft essays on writing flash fiction. In her newest, "Time in Flash Fiction" (TSS Publishing), she uses a microflash of mine ("Departure" in 100 WORD STORY, which I'd forgotten) as an example. She writes,
"One of the fundamental forms of expressing time in fiction is ‘real time.’ The scene is one of the basic elements of long and short fiction, and there’s nothing more ‘real time’ than a scene played in dialogue, with or without ‘stage directions.’ The action plays minute by minute, following the sequence of the scene. … Jacqueline Doyle uses a moment-by-moment deconstruction of a conversation between a couple, without further comments, to highlight a struggle for power. The use of subtext is brilliant here, especially since the piece is so short, only 100 words long. Note how the author doesn’t use ‘stage directions’ at all — there isn’t really a third party narrator outside of the tags ‘he said’ and ‘she said.’ An all-dialogue story is harder to pull off, but it is much more rewarding in terms of underlining the real-time dynamics between the protagonists."
This is the second time she's used one of my stories in an article. (She also recommended "The Missing Girl" in “Unusual Structures in Flash Fiction – Part II"). I'm so honored!
I have eight flash forthcoming in 2019, which feels good: minnesota review, Juked Online, Fictive Dream, The Cabinet of Heed, Change Seven, Sweet: A Literary Confection, Ghost Proposal, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and two more reprints in anthologies. I have just about nothing new to show to my San Francisco writing group (which meets every other Wednesday), which makes me nervous. I have a muddle of research on Lunatics. Last year I made some really specific resolutions. This year I think I'll simply resolve to keep writing and keep reading. And to be kind to others, generous with my students and fellow writers. I should be able to manage that.
This year felt less productive than last year, and filled with rejections, but when I tallied up my publications, it turns out that I did really well, with twenty flash publications (eleven last year), three creative nonfiction essays (three last year), four short stories (one last year). Most exciting is that I’ve had essays and flash accepted at a number of literary journals that I thought were out of reach. My Pushcart nominations this year were from journals I was floored to even get into (The Gettysburg Review! Wigleaf! New Flash Fiction Review!). I had my first Finalist listings in Best Small Fictions. I was awarded my fourth Notable listing in Best American Essays. I have work in two great anthologies (from Black Lawrence Press and Outpost 19).
I’m continued to get great reviews of my chapbook The Missing Girl. The reading and chapbook signing with Black Lawrence at AWP last spring was so much fun. The chapbook and anthologies and just gradually becoming known as a flash writer in the Bay Area led to fourteen readings this year, far more than I’ve ever done before.
Thank you to all the editors who published my flash and essays and short stories and nominated me for awards this year, and to all the readers who supported my achievements, and to all the writers who inspired me. I’m filled with gratitude. May your new year be wonderful. HAPPY 2019!
Just as I was reflecting on my end-of-year writing summation (to come), a flurry of activity today.
My flash friend Kathryn Kulpa recused herself from consideration of my flash "Dark Hallway" at CLEAVER but stepped in after it was accepted pending revisions suggested by the outside readers. I made some of the revisions, resisted a major one at the end, sent two alternate drafts to Kathryn, who agreed about the end, and made SUCH helpful suggestions. It's rare that editing yields such wonderful results. The flash has become what it wanted to be (what I hoped it would be).
And then I opened twitter and discovered that Robert Vaughan and the other editors at BENDING GENRES had nominated my tiny flash fiction "What Remains" for BEST SMALL FICTIONS 2019. I'm thrilled both by the nomination, and the company. The other nominees are Brianne M. Kohl, Gaynor Jones, Jennifer Todhunter, and Kaj Tanaka. A wonderful way to end the year.
My flash fiction "Framed" was supposed to be out in JUKED in December, but it looks like that's not happening. Next month maybe.
In the meantime I discovered a new zine that reprints pieces from journals that have disappeared. My flash nonfiction "At the End" is out in DEFUNCTED today. I'm particularly pleased with the illustration I found, one of Edvard Munch's many deathbed paintings (probably of his sister). That was an amazing exhibit at SFMOMA.
Ages ago I did a mini-interview with Dan Wickett for the Dzanc Books Emerging Writers Network. It was an ambitious project, to post interviews with all of the writers who'd published short story collections in the U.S. in 2017 for short story month. He had health problems and didn't get all of the interviews posted until now. Here's the interview, somewhat out of date.
I'm wondering whether my Lunatics project may divide itself into several separate projects, but I'm still interested in a nonfiction flash series on women who were incarcerated in mental asylums. I've written about several nineteenth-century lunatics already, after research on the Willard Suitcases project, Lucy Ann Lobdell, Lorina Bulwell, Nellie Bly's undercover journalism on Blackwell's. Lately I've been reading a fascinating book on Charcot and hysteria. This advice in a recent interview by the essayist Elisa Gabbert seems useful. I've never written 5,000 words in a day, but a flash, yes.
"I just turned in a manuscript, another collection of essays, and the way I wrote that was very specific: For between one and three months, depending on my time constraints, I’d surround myself with, or submerse myself in, material on a topic—for example nuclear disasters, or 'hysteria,' or memory—and read and watch films and think and take tons of notes. Then after a while the essay would start to take shape in my mind. I’d outline a structure, and then block off time to write it. As this process got systematized, I became more efficient; for the last essay I finished, I wrote most of it, about 5,000 words, in a single day. It was pretty much my ideal writing day: I got up relatively early on a Saturday morning and wrote until dark. Then I poured a drink and read over what I’d written. Of course I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t give myself plenty of processing time."
In fact that's how I wrote my flash sequence on Freud's Dora a few years back, which followed several days of immersion in Freud's case study and research about it and French feminist critiques. I'd love to maintain that balance between research and lyric riff in these new flash, which sometimes feel too prosy and academic to me.
The interview got me interested in reading Elisa Gabbert, and I already love her essay "The Point of Tangency: On Digression."
A very uncharacteristic flash with a dog and a happy ending, inspired by a prompt at the Kathy Fish Fast Flash Extravaganza. I really had no idea where to send "The Red Ball," so I was pleased when it was accepted by the cool Irish zine THE CABINET OF HEED. Coming out in mid-January.
A mantra for the new year, something I just read in an interview with Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, whose book THE FACT OF A BODY I really liked:
"Just revise, revise, revise, revise, revise. Also, it’s important to know that doubt is not fatal. This is advice for those of us who have a tendency to really doubt or critique the work before it’s even found its fledgling voice on the page. You can do the work even through doubt. Even while feeling the doubt. It’s important to acknowledge that the doubt might be a reflection of your own fear and not a reflection of the quality of the work. Some days are awesome, and you feel all the strength and power, and think, 'I can totally write this story!' And other days are not like that at all. But that’s what I would recommend: Don’t allow the doubt to prevent you from writing."
I got my grades in on Tuesday night. My study is a sea of paper and folders, revised and half-revised Lunatics flash, various versions of the end of the newly-revised-but-not-yet-finished long essay on Hartmut's death, and I have no idea what to send to F(R)ICTION though it's been a while since they solicited work. I'm not feeling inclined to revise or to write this week, and I'm still worried about how the Lunatics flash will fit together, but all that's okay, right?
So strange that NOR: NEW OHIO REVIEW used this Van Gogh painting of the asylum in the South of France where he was hospitalized when they posted an excerpt from my essay "Haunting Houses" on Facebook, and then THE NASIONA used the same painting when they posted Steve's new essay "I Saw It All." And here I am writing about lunatic asylums.
On Wednesday, I googled Steve's name, which I never do, and ran into Tupelo Hassman's Facebook and twitter posts on Steve's NASIONA essay just hours after she'd put them up. He discovered her email about the essay when he got home, an email partly about cosmic coincidences. Of which there are many.
It’s arrived! It’s always flattering to have a story solicited by an editor who already likes your work. So I’m particularly pleased to have my short story “The Snows of Yesteryear” in THE OCEAN STATE REVIEW, an annual print journal affiliated with the University of Rhode Island that has published writers such as Robin Hemley, Denise Duhamel, David Lazar, Nicole Walker, Patricia Smith, Melanie Rae Thon, Michael Martone, Lia Purpura, Rosmarie Waldrop, and Keith Waldrop (who was a mentor when I went to Brown years ago). Many thanks to editor Charles Kell.