Forthcoming in June

I had a very encouraging string of publishing acceptances in May and now a new one in June. I’m going to use the phrase “very excited” in each of the paragraphs below, because I really, really mean it. Forthcoming for me in the next two weeks:

“Behind the Eight” at Schuylkill Valley Journal, part of their new Dispatches series. I’m very excited about this piece finding a home as part of this new series!

“Clouds” in the launch issue of Perhappened Magazine. The theme for this issue is carnival. I grew up in the mobile food concession business, so some of the story is from that perspective. I’m very excited to be included in this issue! Saturday, June 6.

“Anyway, Here’s Wonderwall” at the newly-launched Rejection Letters. I’m very excited to be included in the early days of this new project! Tuesday, June 10.

“A Decent Disaster” at Mineral Lit Mags June issue. I’m very excited to be part of this edition!

I’m particularly grateful that these pieces have each found the right home, and I’m even more excited by the chance to work with the editors at each of these venues, all of whom have been amazingly encouraging and wonderful to connect with in general.

Isaac Bashevis Singer on the State of the Short Story (circa 1980)

Although the short story is not in vogue nowadays, I still believe that it constitutes the utmost challenge to the creative writer. Unlike the novel, which can absorb and even forgive lengthy digressions, flashbacks, and loose construction, the short story must aim directly at its climax. It must possess uninterrupted tension and suspense. Also, brevity is its very essence. The short story must have a definite plan; it cannot be what in literary jargon is called ‘a slice of life.’ The masters of the short story, Chekhov, Maupassant, as well as the sublime scribe of the Joseph story, in the Book of Genesis, knew exactly where they were going.

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.

My Dog Can Read (Stanley Fish and Leo Strauss)

I’ve been writing and workshopping a story about a group of people living on a block of rowhomes and the glimpses they get of each other in passing. To the right you’ll find an excerpt.  Who wouldn’t want a dog like this?

Earlier this morning, I came home from a jaunt outside to find my own dog clearly wanting a walk.  It’s icy and raining here.  My coat and shoes were off.  Then I took a look at what he’d brought me immediately after sensing this thing might not go his way.  It was a typed of piece paper.  The final line of the page?

My dog is smarter than your dog.

I haven’t worked on that story in a while.  I couldn’t even tell you where the manuscript was if I needed to. I’ not saying (I’m just saying.)  He got the walk, of course.  He earned it.

Another of his literary adventures, here.

 

 

(Update: The excerpted piece is collected in What Other People Heard When I Taught Myself to Speak.)