Archive for September 2015
A piece of mail I’ve been waiting for all summer finally arrived two weeks ago. It was the April, 2015 issue of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine. I was contacted last May by the nice folks who edit and publish Flash at the University of Chester in Chester, UK; they wanted to put up my flash fiction piece “Zadie.” I wasn’t going to argue with them, of course, though we did debate a little about line and content edits. And I had to get my head around why I was contacted in May about inclusion in an issue that was intended for April, but they said it was all a matter of busy-ness and marking piles of undergraduate papers at the end of the term. I know that racket all too well.
I’m happy. Flash is a reputable international publication that in the very least has included a writer for whom I hold a great deal of respect because of her stories in The New Yorker. I’m honored to be joining their ranks, even if it is to the tune of a mere 314 words. That’s not a typo—my story is 314 words, and it’s not even close to being the shortest one in the issue.
How does one write such a short, short piece of fiction? Kinda like one writes poetry, I guess. Seems logical, too, that since I’ve been studying and practicing poetry and fiction for the last five years that I’d “discover” a way to merge them. What happened was that I arrived early at a local school board meeting last January and happened to have my journal with me. I challenged myself to write something that I could complete in the 30 minutes before the meeting started; plus, I wanted it to end with a compelling visual image that would act metaphorically. I wasn’t quite sure what that image would be, but I had an opening line that I deliberately crafted to be rude, profane, and shocking if only to get the reader’s attention right away:
“Suzi was the type of girl who would fuck on a pile of coats on a bed in a spare bedroom at a party.”
I wrote fast and hard, and then let it go by the time the meeting started. I didn’t visit it again until I typed it two weeks later, and then I pottered around with it here and there over the next few weeks. I wrote another story along with it, but I really only viewed the pieces as practice. I showed them to a writer friend who really liked them, which was enough to encourage me to submit them to Flash when I found a listing for the publication while scrolling through a database of publications that were accepting stories. I was surprised to hear back from them because I hadn’t really thought much of the piece.
So now I’ve got an international publication to my credit. I’m pretty happy about that. A copy of Flash will cost you about $14, but I can save you the money. If you text “pure genius” to 847-528-2873, I’ll text you a PDF of “Zadie.” And hey—it’s only half as long as this blog post!
P.S. Lest you think I got away with a potboiler writing stunt, the opening line mentioned above is not what was published. Instead, it was this:
“I practically heard the synapses firing in Zadie’s brain the moment she started scheming.”
P.P.S. That second piece of flash fiction I wrote along with “Zadie”? Nobody seems to want it. I’ll put it up later this week and you can decide the quality of it yourself.
Baseball didn’t do much for me this summer. That’ll happen when the Brewers start 3-18 and the coach is gone before the middle of May. The Tigers tripped over their own tails, never quite fulfilling the promise of a team built and rearmed year to year over the last ten years to win a World Series. The Orioles have been up and down, and were in the wild card spot as little as a month ago. That’s when they put the “coast” in roller coaster and promptly lost a slew of games and dropped below .500. It’s not over for them yet, but I don’t see them recovering and making it into October. So that leaves me with the Cubs.
They just now took three of four from Pittsburgh, and looked good doing it. If the situation with the playoffs remains static, and it likely will, the Cubs will play Pittsburgh for the wildcard spot in Pittsburgh in early October. If things go well and they win (which is not guaranteed), they’ll face off with St. Louis in the division series. No doubt every Cubs fan is slavering over the chance to slay the much- and long-hated Cardinals in 5-game series, but the only way the Cubs can really do that is if the fury of the rivalry sparks something god-like in them and they can play David to the Goliath down I-55.
There’s too many “if”s in that last paragraph for me to start believing in the Cubs. See, here’s the thing: The Cubs are your friend with a substance abuse problem. You can’t rely on him—in fact, there is nothing in their last 100 years that rings even remotely with a tone of reliability. Like your friend with a substance abuse problem, there is constant talk about getting better. Things are going to be different next year. Sure enough, he might get something together and look good, but he falls off the wagon and spend years regaining his sobriety. It doesn’t help that the Cubs fan base doesn’t care about the sobriety issue (in fact, Wrigleyville discourages the use of the the word “sober”), that they don’t care how miserable the situation is—they love the Cubs all the same and still drop their money at the ticket booth. So, much like a person who is having trouble staying sober, the Cubs need a new peer group. I’ve mentioned that before in posts about the death of nostalgia at Wrigley Field and attempts to make the stadium more fan-friendly. I’m glad to see the Cubs making the right steps and understanding what it takes to be sober and functional, but I’m not there yet. By all measures they are ahead of projections for where the team should be, but until “wait until next year” can be said with a measure of confidence and not irony, I’m not going to be very interested in them. Maybe next year is the year by which to measure them. We’ll have to see. Until then, you’ll pardon me if I take the Cubs at my leisure and don’t take them too seriously.