A reminder! My story, “Must Believe in Ghost” will be appearing in the spring issue of The Normal School. If you want to read it (YOU DO YOU DO YOU MAY NOT KNOW IT BUT YOU DO) you should order a subscription now! It’s only like $12 a year. CHUMP CHANGE! Flaunt your affluence! Make it rain! Then, when April or May rolls around and I’m all getting in your grill to go buy my issue, you can be all, hey man, I’ve already been grooving on these sweet, sweet narratives!
Also, the cover of the first issue of Outlook Springs (for which I am the fiction editor!) has been leaked and the issue will be out on April 15th. You can get your hands on a copy (or a subscription!) here. It’s chock full of amazing writing and interdimensional weirdness and existential heartbreak and esoteric malapropisms.
Our first reading period has officially closed and we’re nearing our final line-up for our first issue, which we’ll be announcing soon. In preparation for this momentous event, we’re fundraising to supplement our costs—printing, website, Submittable, paying writers!
Skip the lines and pre-order the first issue!
Our mission is simple: we want to publish the best fiction, poetry, and non-fiction from all nooks and crannies of Space/Time. Readers and writers alike will shape the mythology and history of the town by voting in town elections, writing news stories, submitting patents for various inter-dimensional inventions, et cetera.
There’s a ton of other stuff: stickers, t-shirts, movie posters from Outlook Springs-only films, like Moon Tuba. There’s a special Mystery Box from our Mayor, Judy Hernandez, who is in no way a cat. You can also buy a crooked politician or a local business.
Be the most fashion-forward of your lit clique!
Right now, we’re running a raffle to win a FREE Fashion Fish T-shirt or a Buried in Books T-shirt: find us on Facebook and share this post for a chance to win. (No purchase necessary! Valid in all contiguous dimensions!)
As I wrap up my MFA (which means a new subtitle to this blog is in order!) there have been a lot of lasts lately, like my last workshop which is this Thursday, my last day of teaching, my last Read Free or Die, the last time I’ll see people from my cohort who are going off to wherever their careers are taking them. (I have it on good authority that the place everyone goes to during the first several post-MFA months is Deep Depression, and from there, on to their careers.)
But there’s also some firsts which is ending my MFA years on a rather high note. As you may have seen, I was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and I just found out on Tuesday that my story “Must Believe in Ghost” has been accepted for publication in The Normal School, which is a magical magazine and if you’re not reading it, you should. I met them at AWP last spring and was immediately impressed, got a subscription, and began avidly reading their fantastic work (which is beautifully designed, by the way.)
“Must Believe in Ghost” primarily concerns the content of this photograph.
I MUST BE IN THIS!, I said, and sent them the one story I had that I thought would really fit their aesthetic. DING! DING! DING! (See, kids, it pays to read a journal to understand its editorial inclinations and target your submissions, rather than carpet-bombing your story to everyone.)
I’ll update later when it’s out and available, or you can order a subscription now! It’s only like $12 a year. CHUMP CHANGE! Flaunt your affluence! Make it rain! Then, when April or May rolls around and I’m all getting in your grill to go buy my issue, you can be all, hey man, I’ve already been grooving on these sweet, sweet narratives!
Literary accolades from a farmer’s market always taste fresher than store-bought.
decomP magazinE, which published my story, Punchline Number Nine, published back in February, has nominated it for a Pushcart Prize. I’ve heard writers “joke” that everyone has a Pushcart, implying that they’re meaningless, which would make a nomination eve more meaningless—a tiny pocket void filled with lint sort of off to the side in the armpit of the regular void, I guess.
A) Say that to the Pushcart people.
B) This was my first publication.
C) I’m twenty-three lightyears away from thinking of myself as a successful writer.
D) I’m ecstatic as all heck.
This is the appropriate facial expression of subdued excitement, correct?
However, I have no idea how to behave about these things. I’m bad at accepting regular, everyday compliments. How to properly demur, show the appropriate level of both humility and excitement—that fence-balance between of-course and I-can’t-believe.
I know the chances of actually winning are pretty low, but I am proud of my little nomination. And come to think of it, the writers that joked everyone has a Pushcart didn’t have Pushcarts. Interesting.
Later this month, I’ll be reading at my final Read Free or Die event. This is also, almost, my favorite poster that I’ve designed since I took over that duty.
Then, next month, I’ll read from my thesis as the last act required before I am officially a Master of Fine Arts, or, as I’ve been corrected, a Mother Fucking Author.
I made this too,
After that, I’ll be on by own, writing without a deadline, trying to make ends meet by designing books and their covers so I don’t have to get a jobby-job, maybe teaching if I can swing a fiction gig, fingers crossed that I’ll start getting stories published, and begin work on the novel.
I’ve gotten seventeen rejections in the past month. All of them felt pretty awful, except today, I got my second tiered rejection from the New Yorker. Since they usually don’t even respond to the slush, I’m considering that a big win.
Insert pithy last line to round out this post which has ostensibly no connective tissue.
In case I haven’t mentioned it here, I’ve donned the mantle of Interdimensional Ethnograper Fiction Editor at the freshly minted Outlook Springs. We’re a biannual literary magazine posing as a small town in another dimension, or another dimension posing as a literary magazine. We’re on a safari to catch the elusive lovechild of Welcome to Night Vale and Tin House, if you can imagine such a beast. And if you can’t, try, write a story about it, then submit it to me.
Literature for your sad, corruptible, mortal heart.
For fiction, we’re thinking along these lines: Send us stories we can’t put down. Our emphasis is literary fiction: “the human heart in conflict with itself,” as Faulkner famously said. But we aren’t biased against genre. To the contrary! Experimental, science fiction, fantasy, slipstream, magical realism, minimalist, maximalist, etc., etc., are all welcome into our home, so long as there is an emphasis on character and language rather than on cleverness and conceit. Let us reiterate: character and language are important. We want sentences radioactive with the bizarre, the beautiful, the ugly—the world as only you see it. Surprise us. Break our hearts. Humor is always a plus. Humor and heartbreak together? Oh, boy. That’s a dream come true. Outlook Springs isn’t looking for merely competent stories—stories that are technically proficient but emotionally cold. Zap us with life.
So yeah, everything from gritty realism through lambasted absurdism, as long as it’s heart is beating so loud it travels back through time and drives Edgar Allan Poe to write a creeptastic story about it.
Welcome to Outlook Springs
We’re a biannual print magazine. We do not charge submission fees. We pay our writers. We have big plans for our little town.
In a discussion about “selling out” versus “remaining true” in art, I questioned the very idea of selling out. I don’t know what that means. Not really.
Implied in those words is the idea that by monetizing your art, you’re somehow polluting it, diluting it, lessening it somehow.
But this is capitalism! We live in this system. We may not like the game, but as the old joke goes, it’s the only game in town.
So I half-jokingly suggested that there’s no secret society harboring “true” yet commercially unsuccessful works of art. There’s no Knights Templar or Freemasons of writing unpolluted by the poison of marketing.
But what if there is? And what does that writing look like? What is the difference between what people want versus what they’ll pay for?
Is truth any less truthy if it also makes a buck and allows its author to buy food and shelter and smart phones? Is the Venn diagram of true art and commercial art to separate circles or is there an overlap?
I can already see people gearing up their arguments, something about how this is why genre writers make more money than literary writers and so forth. About who the gatekeepers are, who decides what’s good art and what’s commercially viable art. About the Literati and the Illiterati.
These are dumb questions. These are procrastination questions.