Posts Tagged little and literary magazines

A Day Discussing Words

Today I was talking to my best friend from high school about a trip we took to Watkins Glen and Corning Glass Museum. There were six of us on that trip, plus her mother who was driving. My friend, Hannah, didn’t remember the details. I remember we were exchanging AFS students. I’d just hosted a Japanese girl for a week and it seems that we were picking up my classmate and potential AFS student, Dan Lloyd. But who the other exchangees were, I neither of us remember. Possibly I have those details wrong.

Later this morning I had a nice chat about writing, publishing, books, and characters with my hair stylist. In an hour my writing group is meeting. All in all, a day full of books, writing, and words.

I believe this was my first published poem, in the journal Voices International. It was inspired by the trip to Corning and someone else along on that trip.

In the Glassworks

Row on shimmering row of bottles
stood silent, glazed guard
while I dared not breathe
amidst the burnished vials and goblets.

Glintily he shadowed me,
grey-mirror eyes
shattering the fragile world around us
into multi-colored shards.

And I could feel the glass melt,
sense the heat
from the glass-blower’s torch,
and I could hear wind chimes
delicately tinkle
as from behind he sighed in my hair.

And in the dancing prism lights
he whispered,
voice thin as spun glass
and no one heard,
no one was witness
but the row on glimmering row of bottles.

April Cole

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Sometimes Early Success Is Not Helpful

When I first started writing, I wrote poetry and was reasonably successful in finding a places to publish. Most were in small, independent “journals.” One appeared in a college journal, Kalliope, in the same issue as Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, Kathleen Norris, and Kathleen Spivak. That was my biggest success. Eventually, I decided I wasn’t a very good poet and started writing and sending out short stories. I was asked for rewrites and usually received a comment or two, if only a scribbled, “Thanks. ” I took an upper level fiction writing class at Colorado State University during which I handed in two or three stories. This class was huge, maybe forty students, mostly kids in their early twenties. Four or five were slightly older. The professor, an odd, quiet man and published writer, called out two stories he considered possibly publishable, both belonging to older students. One of them, titled, Casanova With Fleas, was mine. His suggestion for me was to cut; the original was around 12,000 words. I cut it to  6,000 and eventually to between 4,000 and 4,500 words. Meanwhile, I wasn’t particularly happy in my job, especially when I learned the only other employee of the senior transportation program I worked for made significantly more money than I did. The director of the program wasn’t willing to increase my pay even though I basically ran everything but volunteer recruitment. I decided to quit and give myself a year to see where I could go with writing.As soon as I gave notice,  we flew back East for my husband’s 20th high school reunion. When we returned, I had an acceptance for Casanova and a check for $35 dollars from a start-up journal, Modern Short Stories. I never did like the name, nor its pulpy look, but they were trying to produce a popular journal to be sold in places like smoke shops and airports. The unfortunate timing, though, made it so I’d met my goal before I started, and I think I wasted a good part of my year, not seriously tackling the business of writing.

My writing group usually has a holiday dinner at my house or a special-event restaurant in place of one of our December meetings. This year we plan to release Flying wish-papers  as well as set our yearly and/or quarterly goals. The trick will be to write goals in such a way that success is achievable without undermining the desire to more completely fulfill each goal. Possibly those of us who are inherently lazy can overcome minor fulfillment of our goals by staggering goals or setting new short-term quarterly, or even monthly, goals.How do others handle setting goals, and has anyone else had the experience of prematurely meeting a goal and having your motivation self-implode?

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One Advantage of Publishing on the Internet

Sometimes writing to publish seems futile. Yes, I have published stories, but one wonders how many people read them/have read them? And if the only audience is my writing group and a select few others, why bother? I know the “correct” answer is, because I must. But must I sit and type and edit? Before I was a writer, I used to daydream stories. If I am not going to have an audience, why not do this again? It might be as personally satisfying and the editing can go on forever since I’m unlikely to remember what exact changes I’ve made. My house might be cleaner since daydreaming is compatible with vacuuming or dusting. It doesn’t, of course, accomplish two things; more than likely it won’t lead to growth as a storyteller or writer, nor does it do much for communication. As far as I know, no one is able to read my mind.
In the past, the first choice for publication was hard copy literary journals with their often dismal subscriber numbers. More prestigious, but how many people actually read each issue? Of course there are big-name journals with larger circulations, but the majority of these journals are less well-known and have small readerships. I suspect some of the students at the colleges, which publish the smaller journals read some of the stories and poems, but the I’d be willing to bet the largest audience is potential contributors. Yes, this may lead to readers, but I know I buy copies of journals, try to get engaged in a few stories, and then quit. One or two journals routinely published stories I read all the way through—StoryQuarterly being one—but overall I found only the occasional story interesting, and I seldom remembered the name of the author.
At one time I read The Atlantic, mostly for the fiction, so  when they stopped including a story, I quit subscribing. Normally I purchase the fiction issue, although this summer I neglected to pick one up at the local newsstand. I also regularly purchased The Best American Short Stories. The stories in both these sources are usually more promising than those in random issues of literary magazines. In 2012, I didn’t buy the annual anthology as the stories, always well written, have taken on a sameness, featuring the same authors from the same sources. Besides, instead of being the best stories written, I feel they more accurately should be described as the best stories according to Heidi Pitlor; in most cases, this editor screens the stories before sending them off to the guest editor to pick. The truth is, I often found the comments on the genesis of the stories included, as well as the brief biographies of the authors more engaging than the stories themselves.
Internet journals, especially ten years ago, weren’t highly regarded, but there was a chance people would actually read the stories. Most of them were free. Many of them were short. And there were all those writers looking for places for their own work that either didn’t want to spend the money on the print journals or knew their material wasn’t exactly right for literary markets. Many of the online places made commenting easy, too. For me, the idea of readers on the Internet was tempting. I also liken these Internet journals to the “little magazines” that were published in the past.
For a while, a writer friend googled herself to see if anyone had commented on her stories. I’ve had a difficult time finding my stuff on the Internet, especially by writer name. Every variation of my name, except my married name, is very common. But one time my googling friend found a comment someone had made on one of my stories and forwarded it to me. I enjoyed reading this person’s reaction and commentary on my idea.

Even though the journal, Bewildering Stories, this story was published in has a very high acceptance rate according to Duotrope statistics, it pleased me that someone chose to comment on it and discuss it. Not sure I can ever find the comments again, though!

The Ineffableness of Non-genetic Inheritance.

In case anyone is wondering about the genesis of this story, I wrote the first draft while driving home from visiting my in-laws in Roswell, NM.

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