Waiting to hear from the CRAFT CNFA contest judge on this year's winners (due yesterday). Waiting for the new issue of MIDWAY JOURNAL with my cnf micro (due yesterday). Waiting for the new issue of FIVE SOUTH with my short story (due a few weeks ago, postponed due to website redesign). Waiting to decide on some really good submissions for CRAFT (very hard decisions, partly dependent on the contest results). We have such limited space. It breaks my heart to reject such excellent work.
a whirlwind acceptance
A few days ago, Ralph Pennel at MIDWAY JOURNAL sent me a very nice rejection of my only flash fiction making the rounds and asked if I could send something else to him directly. I don't have another flash fiction so I asked if cnf would be okay. He and the Nonfiction Editor accepted my lyric micro "Doppler Effect" the next day! It will be out on April 15. I've gone from having nothing much coming up to having several publications in the next few weeks.
the pinch is here!
So excited that my copies of THE PINCH are here! Proud to have my essay about Mary Todd Lincoln from my WIP THE LUNATICS' BALL included in their spring issue (purchase here). This is my third appearance in THE PINCH (once online, twice now in print), a magazine that I love.
The essay is short, but as so many short essays in THE LUNATICS' BALL, lit required a lot of research. So many interesting facts and quotations! I was overwhelmed, and it was only when I was in Ojai at the Bending Genres writing retreat, all of my research notes and books at home, that I managed to express what I wanted to say in the form of a letter.
Turns out that FIVE SOUTH is having website problems and their new issue (with my Bartleby/Wings of Desire story) won't be out for a few weeks. Something to look forward to.
waiting and a centaur
Since I don't publish a flash a week as I used to (and don't miss it, the rush of satisfaction, all the social media attention, the distraction), I'm very aware of projected publication dates. My short story is a few days overdue. Happened to "see" the editor at an online book launch yesterday and he said something about site redesign. So who knows when it will be out.
Saw two former grad students from a very long time ago at a wedding this past weekend, and one mentioned that he teaches "Nola" in his AP English class. A very unexpected surprise. I'm really touched.
The wedding was at the Chabot Space & Science Center and there was a cool sky show with an enormous constellation of a centaur. I've finished what I hope is my last rewrite of my Ars poetica about hybrids (including centaurs and mermaids) and that seemed like a good sign from the universe. I don't know why some of these short flash require so many rewrites. It's no wonder The Lunatics' Ball is advancing so slowly.
Agreed to serve on the judging panel for the spring Black Lawrence Press chapbook contest again. A lot of work (I read 50 chapbooks) but it feels like an important contribution to the literary community. I love their chapbooks and winning with The Missing Girl was big for me.
My strange hybrid flash "Lunatic Impromptu" is up a jmww.
And I'm in Capitola, eating cheerios with strawberries at a round wooden table by floor-to-ceiling windows in our nice Airbnb. It's chilly and gray and rainy outside, the surf is high--but cozy inside, with a fire in the gas fireplace. I'm looking at a gigantic mural across the street of a mermaid. Horace in his Ars Poetica cautions against mixing genres, lest you end up with a monstrous hybrid that looks like a beautiful woman above, an ugly fish below. I rather like my beauiful monster.
After meditating on the form for Jill Talbot, I'm surprised to see that "Lunatic Impromptu" is a triptych.
acceptance at jmww
My very slippery hybrid flash “Lunatic Impromptu” utilizes three narrative POVs and fictionalized lyric riffs in addition to researched factual exposition. I never know where to send this sort of work from THE LUNATICS’ BALL. I’m thrilled that Bradley David has accepted it for a new series at jmww called “Blended & Beyond”: “polyblends” that are “genre bending/blending/refusing.”
It will be out next week.
When Jill Talbot chose my three-part flash "Little Colored Pills" for the triptych section in her forthcoming anthology ESSAY FORM(S), she asked all the writers in that section to write a 100 words on why they chose to write their essays as triptychs. I was worried about doing that. Have I ever written a triptych before? Did I even think of the flash as a triptych? What makes triptychs different from segmented flash or essays with more than three sections? I knew I hadn't actually chosen to write a triptych. I started fooling around with ideas a week or two ago and discovered it would be a lot easier to ramble on for 300-400 words than to write a 100 (which actually required me to have an idea).
I don't know whether it's because Lent just started, and Steve has become so religious, but I landed in a fairly astonishing place, to me at least. I was thinking about the visual arts, not so surprising, but I was rereading the piece and struck by the line about religion. Here's what I wrote for her:
II chose the triptych form by instinct rather than conscious design, possibly inspired by medieval religious triptychs. The reference to T.S. Eliot’s modernist montage of “glittering fragments” in the short central section suggests an aesthetic principle: meaning is generated through juxtaposition of the separate sections. Medieval triptychs were altar pieces intended to aid prayer; the three panels evoked the Holy Trinity. A direct appeal to someone in the afterlife, a celebration of life—“Little Colored Pills” might be a prayer. Is that why I included the inner room filled with light, “my only truly religious experience”? I honestly don’t know.
She loved the response, which is a relief, both the medieval context and the reminder that forms sometimes choose writers instead of the other way around. And, very exciting, she mentioned that she's just taught the piece again: "I taught this essay in my graduate workshop last week, and the students really enjoyed talking about the variety in the sections, the Eliot intertextuality."
So that made my day.
Here's the Annunciation Triptych from the school of Robert Campin. It's in the Cloisters, so maybe I've seen it in person. It's well known to me at any rate. And maybe I'm thinking about how meaning announces itself through art in mysterious ways.
acceptance at five south
My short story "The Beautiful Girl on the Flying Trapeze" was just accepted by FIVE SOUTH! I don't write many long stories, one or two a year at most, none published last year, and I wanted to place this at a good magazine. I got a few very soft rejections. ("Masterful," one editor called it.) I held back from sending it out further when FIVE SOUTH told me I'd made the finalist round. Really thrilled!
Since the story references Wim Wenders' film "Wings of Desire," I watched the version with the director's commentary while I was writing it, which I highly recommend.
FLASH IN FICTIVE DREAM, READINGS
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Every February FICTIVE DREAM does a flash fiction series, with a new flash every day. I’m thrilled to be included for the fifth year in a row (my sixth publication in FICTIVE DREAM). “Family Night” went up today. For some reason I struggled with this one, despite (or maybe because of) a lot of helpful suggestions from my San Francisco writing group, my online flash group, and an excellent beta reader. They were all different, and I realized it was because I hadn’t decided myself how my narrator felt about her marriage and its future. Also foods: originally this was called “Quesadilla,” and I like quesadillas, but discovered that many people don’t!
Claudia McGill does the art in FICTIVE DREAM every year, and I absolutely love it.
Feeling sorry that I won’t make it to Grant Faulkner’s upcoming book launch at Pegasus Books in Berkeley, since I love THE ART OF BREVITY, but I’m really wary of gatherings at indoor spaces. Lots of people get COVID more than once, and I don’t want to be one of them.
Sorry to miss my chance to read with THE PINCH contributors at AWP in Seattle next month. And to participate in CRAFT's AWP activities, including a co-hosted reading.
I may read at an in-person reading in the Rolling Writer series in May, though, which is now held in Jon Sindell’s beautiful garden instead of the Rolling Café. I wish more events were outdoors.
My flash friend Kathryn Kulpa will be the keynote reader in Paul Beckman’s FBomb series in July (originally at the KGB Bar in Manhattan, but on Zoom since the pandemic started). She’s invited me to be one of the accompanying readers. I’ve been in the series many times, and always enjoy it. I’m trying to grow out my bangs. Maybe I’ll have made some progress by then.
a happening week
I have my Lunatics' Ball essay in EPOCH (print only). (And I'm finally making progress on more essays in the book.)
Steve has a wild story in HUNGER MOUNTAIN.
My chapbook THE MISSING GIRL went on sale at BLACK LAWRENCE PRESS, and a lot of people are saying nice things about it to promote the sale.
I picked up my copy of Grant Faulkner's THE ART OF BREVITY at Books on B today, and I was really pleased to see his lengthy, appreciative writeup of my flash "Little Darling." I knew he was including it, but I didn't know he'd say quite so much!