Publicity and marketing materials and preorder info is out for AWAKENINGS, the forthcoming anthology about the body from ELJ Editions where I have an essay. They want to do readings and I wish I didn't feel so reluctant to read my essay "Late Bloomer" about being flat chested. It's not the embarrassing moment as a preteen, that's fine, I guess it's the somewhat sentimental closure. Something anyway. It also feels weird that they're marketing me as a "seasoned writer": "A host of seasoned writers, including Alison McGhee, Jesse Lee Kercheval, and Jacqueline Doyle, alongside emerging artists, such as Camille U. Adams, Terry Opaleck, and Sarita Sidhu, share their hearts, their limbs, their breasts" (that would be me). One of the advance blurbs calls the essays "raw and revealing" and mine really isn't.
How do you get to be a seasoned writer without a book? Jessie Lee Kercheval has tons, and has branched into graphic memoirs that are wonderful. Feeling down on myself for my slow progress and long periods of no progress on THE LUNATICS' BALL.
Finally finished the interview introduction and questions for Sarah Fawn Montgomery. I know she's suffering from a bad back injury and nerve damage and I'm worried that she hasn't let me know she received the questions (it's been all of a day). Her hybrid memoir QUITE MAD was quite inspirational for my project. Here's something she said on a blog about the research component in QUITE MAD: "I drew strength for my story through research—hundreds of medical texts and historical accounts, literary analyses and psychopharmaceutical studies to demonstrate to readers that while I was mentally ill, I was also credible, that my anger was supported by my intellect and a chorus of brilliant voices. Adding research allowed me to more accurately write my memoir because American mental illness is the result of systemic ableism and medical sexism, so my experience is part of a legacy of women who have been sedated into submission throughout history, who have been institutionalized and lobotomized without their consent, who were burned at the stake or given the rest cure until they saw madness in yellow wallpaper.”
A bit over a month ago, Tom Conaghan, a publisher in the UK, solicited me to write something for his online series "Scratch Classics," where contemporary writers introduce classic short stories. I procrastinated and yesterday, since I was supposed to be working on something else (an interview that I had hoped to have ready by August 1), I finished my piece on "The Tell-Tale Heart." So much fun to look really closely at how a Poe story is constructed. It's long for their site (even at half the length of my original draft) but Tom seems very enthusiastic. It will run in October.
Because Twitter (now rebranded as X) is falling apart. Now I have a whopping 96 followers on Bluesky (compared to 7,627 on Twitter). I don't think I'll ever manage to develop the circle of writers I've put together over the years on Twitter.
Somehow putting this together, or maybe just sitting hunched over the computer all day, has utterly exhausted me.
I had a good time at the Black Lawrence Press/Nomadic Press (now part of BLP) breakfast, and we were talking about good magazines that had folded and when I came home I discovered that OTOLITHS: A MAGAZINE OF E-THINGS has just discontinued publication. I've always liked my publication there, "Jack-in-the-Box," probably my first lyric essay. OTOLITHS published a lot of experimental work.
I've thought about doing a post listing all the really wonderful magazines I've published in that are no longer with us, but there are far too many. Some I was particularly proud of: SOUTH LOOP REVIEW, ELIMAE, THE COLLAGIST.
The micro that was just rejected has had just one rejection, but I find myself unable to send it anywhere else, even though I had a really good place in mind. I've made tremendous progress on THE LUNATICS' BALL, with the end of a full first draft in sight. (That is, a first draft of the collection; the individual flash and essays have gone through multiple drafts.) But discovering that I hadn't incorporated my beta reader's suggestions for the first third has brought my writing to a screeching halt. Can I do this? Of course I can, but it doesn't feel that way right now.
Two people have asked me to talk to their classes (in August and October), an honor I appreciate. I've made a commitment to write something short about "The Tell-Tale Heart." I've got to assemble an interview of a writer whose work I love. Work at CRAFT has accelerated a bit and I need to correspond with authors and write intros to some of our forthcoming pubs. There's plenty to do right now. Maybe it's the heat and not impostor syndrome (at least not for all of these tasks), but I'm feeling disinclined to do anything at all.
Gratified that writers I respect but barely know (Matt Kendrick and Lindy Biller) have recently posted old flash of mine on Twitter as good examples of ekphrastic flash ("Head of the Household") and the use of fairy tales ("Girls in the Woods"). My impostor syndrome tells me, well, yeah, you used to be able to write.
Steve and I sat on a beach near Mendocino and read for a while before we drove home Thursday. It already feels like a long time ago. I thought I might do some writing on the trip and didn't, but I read a novel and ate some great food. A nice anniversary.
A micro that my writing group liked better than I do (more often it's the opposite). The magazine really liked the micro I withdrew when it was accepted by MIDWAY JOURNAL, so I thought I had a good chance with this one. Apparently not.
We're in a beauiful small town on the coast near Mendocino, celebrating our 36th anniversary with a short getaway. Lots of email pings on our drive here, including a footnote on "(Parenthetical Asides)." Jill Talbot likes it and wants to include it in her discussion and supplementary reading list on one-paragraph essays in her forthcoming anthology ESSAY FORM(S)! (Already arranged: "Haunting Houses" will be on another supplementary reading list in the book, and "Little Colored Pills" will be part of the anthology.) Excited to be in an anthology edited by Jill, whose work I admire greatly, and in an anthology published by Columbia University Press, where I actually worked years ago. Yay!
I wonder whether Jill just read "(Parenthetical Asides)" when it was reposted for the nomination. A lovely way to give new life to a publication.
Deciding on our CNF nominations for Best of the Net at CRAFT this week. I love honoring our authors.
Also heard from Black Lawrence Press, which is putting together a last-minute breakfast in Oakland this Saturday. Looking forward to that. Have I become more sociable since the enforced isolation of the pandemic?.
So honored that Lynn Mundell at CENTAUR nominated my crazy hybrid "(Parenthetical Asides)" for BEST OF THE NET! I was already thrilled to be included in the inaugural issue of this beautiful magazine for hybrids. This is a double honor.
The FBomb reading today was wonderful! Two of my favorite writers as keynotes (Kathryn Kulpa and Sarah Freligh), along with so many other writers whose work I admire ("Flashionistas," Francine Witte called us)—some of whom I've met in person (Kathryn, Kim Magowan, Patricia Bidar)! There's a YouTube video, worth listening to in full. I read my story at 1:04:19. A full roster of readers and start times appears in the video description.
The story I read, "Girls in the Woods," was published in CRAFT before I was hired as an editor there. Quite a few of the readers have published flash fiction and flash nonfiction in CRAFT, which was cool. Quite a few of the readers are also editors at other magazines who've published me (Kathryn at Cleaver, Kim Magowan at Pithead Chapel, Michelle Ross in the audience at Atticus Review).
My sub for the next Rolling Writers reading was accepted. So I'll be reading in person in September, and I have a Zoom reading on Friday. It's the FBomb series I've read in many times, and I wasn't nervous until I saw the lineup with this one, which is filled with flash stars and friends.
Also: I have some good news about an LB essay that I have to keep to myself until October.