Where to Submit Short Stories in 2020

“In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you’ll dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it to the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused.”

-Ernest Hemingway

It’s romantic, maybe, or idealistic (perhaps), or naive (probably) to think that getting published was so much easier back then. Fewer literate people, after all. No MFA programs. No teeming ranks of well-read, well-educated, would-be writers, all very talented, all very good, all very hard-working, all with great ears. All dulling their instruments, all competing. It must have been, after all, a matter of picking the right Parisian cafe. Ford Maddox Ford, Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein…they would have championed your work, too, if you’d been around then.

For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume we’re all very dutifully dulling and sharpening our instruments. And after?

Every Writer has a very good top 50 list here. I’m sad to note that since this list was created in February of this year, both Tin House and Glimmer Train have ceased to be.

I’m not sure what to make of this contraction. Certainly, there is no shortage of good work in the submissions queue. It could be that most of the people who read literary journals are people who want to be published in literary journals, and that we’re so busy, after the writing, with managing the massive numbers game of getting published that we have very little time left to support the market. I don’t think that’s it, but it’s interesting to think about. Of course we buy the journals (although we can’t afford to buy all of them), and of course we pay the submission fees.

And it’s only two journals. But they’re two of the most celebrated. They’re two that consistently appear on everyone’s list. And they’re two of the more recently-established heavy hitters.

It’s a little disheartening. But, thankfully, there are still plenty of whetstones.

Alright. Back to work.

The Long, Complex Sentences of Ernest Hemingway

So they sat there in the shade where the camp was pitched under some
wide-topped acacia trees with a boulder-strewn cliff behind them, and a
stretch of grass that ran to the bank of a boulder-filled stream in front
with forest beyond it, and drank their just-cool lime drinks and avoided
one another’s eyes while the boys all knew about it now and when he
saw Macomber’s personal boy looking curiously at his master while he
was putting dishes on the table he snapped at him in Swahili. The boy
turned away with his face blank.

People who say Hemingway only wrote in terse, simple sentences forget passages like this one. That whole graph is just two sentences, and the first sentence has three hyphen-words spaced in such a way that they balance and even out like lines of parallel Hebrew.

Tonight’s Reading Plan: Lawrence and Lebowski

I’m reading Lawrence, Hemingway and Anderson.

Tonight, I will read a few chapters in the Sun Also Rises and perhaps a little more of St. Mawr. 

I’m also reading The Most Excellent Comedie and Tragical Romance of Two Gentlemen of Lebowski.

You’re going to want to check that out.  Full disclosure:  I get a small percentage if you buy it through the link. 

I hadn’t heard of this work by Adam Bertocci until my wife bought me a copy as a surprise earlier this week.  The opening scene alone is worth the cover price.

Doubt, Depression, Dread-Mornings of the Soul

From 2014:

I’m trying to write a new post about depression and doubt. One does not do this without referencing Leonard Cohen and Ernest Hemingway. I looked up some old posts for reference, only to find that I’d written this almost a year ago to the day:

https://chriscocca.com/2013/02/08/rockstars-and-whetstones-and-ssris-steven-hyden-and-a-bunch-of-other-stuff/

I can’t say that my medical situation is exactly the same as it was then, but I feel a year better, at least, about almost everything.

Below is what I started with this morning before going back.

For me, doubt is never about the veracity of some narrative.  I suppose that’s because the living Christ is the only thing I really believe in.  I suppose it’s because I feel connected to the prophetic witness and movement of the Holy Spirit.  Or perhaps I am drawn to these realities specifically because I can’t fathom the idea that the salvation of the world depends on getting this or that narrative right.  I want to experience what Jesus experienced of God, and what his followers experienced of him.  I want to do what he did.  I don’t have time for anything else.

For me, doubt isn’t waking up and fearing that the stories we were raised on aren’t true.  I don’t care about that.  Doubt, for me, is far more insidious.  It has to do with waking up and worrying that everything I fought for yesterday doesn’t matter, or, worse, would embarrass Ernest Hemingway.  I’m talking about a specific, latent, and under-discussed anxiety that often turns young Christian or Muslim or just plain earnest men into misogynists: the fear of spiritual conviction as masculine failure.  In the West at least, men are inevitably trained to worry about this.  We are trained not only to believe that our worth as men or as people has everything to do with supposedly gender-bound responsibilities of provision to our families and sexual gratification to ourselves, but that the bald pursuit of both at any cost is somehow noble, right, and good.  Spirituality (like nurturing) is better left to women.  When we do pursue spiritual matters, God (God!) forbid we allow ourselves to cede equal ground to women or their equal standing before God.  God forbid we affirm the radical hunches of Paul or the radical directives of Jesus.  If we’re already concerned that spirituality (or anything not manifesting as apathy) makes us cruiser-weight chumps in the war of each against all, we’re not likely to admit women (or gay men, for that matter) can do that shit as well as us, period.

If you’ve ever felt this way, please know that hyper-masculine Neo-Calvinism won’t help.  This isn’t about embracing a beefed-up vision of Jesus but about reclaiming an honest one.  He fought the law and the law won.  And then he won.  On the dark mornings of my soul, waking up means having to remember that the radical potency of insubordination and insurrection isn’t just the point of Jesus’ witness, but of this “work in progress called life.”   The point of life, as best as I can see it, isn’t found in the catechisms of J.M. Barrie, Martin Luther, or Ulrich Zwingli.   It’s found in the life and work of someone like Jesus, killed for daring to free the world from the scarcity model.

That’s no small thing.  It’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of.   It won’t net you a sports car or pension or the kind of disposable relationships we sometimes crave.  It may, however, net you some life and in that sense, abundance.