My First Published Fiction Piece, Reading My Eyeballs Out, Author Photos, Submit to Lunch Ticket
I hit “Send” on (and mailed off, via USPS) my third of five MFA packets yesterday, with a total of about 21 pages of writing, including a short story and a revised opener to my novel. I also led my group book discussion—a requirement each semester—on Sunday, March 25, and it went well, despite some conversational whiplash. I know now that eight essays by Elizabeth Hardwick are too many essays to cover in a 60-minute discussion. Lesson learned.
I’m more than halfway through my first semester, and the month of April is going to be an intense push to the finish line. Writing and reading really could be my full-time job. I may have overcommitted my reading list this semester, by pledging to read Anna Karenina, every poem June Jordan ever wrote, essays by Eudora Welty and Elizabeth Hardwick, and 12 other books. I’m also an assistant editor (reader) of flash prose for Lunch Ticket, Antioch’s MFA student-run online literary journal. The experience fundamentally changes the way I read, for the better. All of the sifting and winnowing (thanks, UW-Madison) we do for the journal makes me see my own writing in a brighter, and often more critical, light. Close, analytical reading is essential to becoming a better writer.
I received two rejections this week, one from a literary journal and one from a conference I really wanted to attend this summer. I’m trying to take the rejections in stride, since that’s what being a full-time writer is all about—rejection, rejection, rejection, SUCCESS, rejection, rejection, more rejection. Journalism and the corporate world gave me a pretty thick skin, and I’m grateful for the resilience. I’ll keep trying, writing, submitting, crying, rejoicing, repeating.
On a brighter note, my first published fiction piece came out yesterday in Reservoir Journal. It's about sex—ooh, la la—and infidelity, and it's inspired by Molly Giles's Flannery O'Connor Award-winning short story, "Pie Dance." I met the Reservoir editor at AWP; she’s a terrific person and we had a great chat about reading and reviewing fiction submissions.
My extremely talented, intuitive, down-to-earth, beautiful-souled friend Audre, who is a very-big-deal photographer, took some author photos of me in my home a few weeks back. We always have such a great time together, talking about life, politics, religion, vices, love, family, the creative process, the corporate world, and where we see ourselves fitting into the universe at large. I am so lucky to have her as a friend. Thank you for the stunning, true images and your wonderful friendship, Audre!
Oh, and if you write flash prose—fiction or creative nonfiction under 750 words—be sure to submit to Lunch Ticket before our April 30 deadline! I love a complete, compelling story free of clichés and overused images, phrases, and/or tropes. Some great flash prose submission tips on “hard sells” can be found here, courtesy of Flash Fiction Online. Not saying I agree with all of these “hard sells,” but these are helpful guidelines.
Until next week!