Lots of small things coming out sometime this year

Hello friends. Not much happening here. Except that I got sick!!!!! On Sunday I started running a fever and by Tuesday night was symptom free. No respiratory symptoms, mostly fever and chills. May have been COVID, but I tested negative on four rapid tests and a PCR test. And this is in SF where our test positivity is 18 percent! I genuinely have no idea what it was. But I was isolated in our bedroom for several days on the assumption it was COVID, and it sucked.

So that really threw me off. But I am better now.

During my illness I got notice about a few shorter works. My poems "Hatshepsut" and "Bites" will be in the Tampa Review. My poem "Before Sleep" will be in Storm Cellar. My story "Endings" will be in the South Dakota Review. And my story "Citizen Science" will be in Analog! No publication date on any of these yet, but I did also see page proofs for a poem, "Fire", in Cherry Tree and an essay on classics in the curriculum for the LARB. And I have another essay coming out in LitHub at some point, as well as two stories in two YA anthologies, Out There (ed Saundra Mitchell) and Out of their League (ed Dahlia Adler and Jennifer Iacopelli).

So that all seems pretty good! That’s a lot of short things! I like short things. I like how the stakes are so low. A friend of mine was talking about how we’d had the same experience, of having a story accepted by Praire Schooner (a middle-tier literary journal that doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions) and having to tell them that another journal had accepted the piece first. In both cases we had sim-subbed the piece anyway, despite their policies, and the editors were a little upset.

The novel-writing version of this (pissing off an editor) would be a minor catastrophe. You don’t want to make enemies at a big publishing house. But the short story version doesn’t matter at all. The absolute worst that can happen is you never get into Prairie Schooner.

I like short things. I like how nobody reads them. I like how you can always just write another one. I like how you can finish writing them in a day. I like how you can control the submissions process yourself directly.

The worst part of short things isn’t that they make no money, it’s that they’re so ephemeral. They’re gone before they arrive: yesterday’s story, yesterday’s poem, yesterday’s essay. It’s like they never existed.

The second worst part is they make you no money.

The third worst part is nobody reads them.

Having a short piece published is an abstraction in the highest degree. The check–small as it is–represents the realest part of the transaction. Everything else: the fact that it is published and that someone read it–is something you have to take mostly on faith. I mean yes you do get contributor copies, which I like. So the contributor copies are the realest part, and then the check.

Yet, the thing is, that’s surprisingly true for novels as well. Yes, you get more feedback, and you get sales and see covers and author copies fill up your crawl space, and you get askked to be in anthologies and to do school visits, but mostly it doesn’t affect your life much at all.