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By the Numbers: “The Summers of Carefully”

 

Writing flash as I do, it strikes me that the number of words in a piece only slightly exceeds the number of times I have to submit before the piece is accepted.

Alle’s famed comic hyperbole strikes again; The word count for The Summers of Carefully is 286. Right Hand Pointing was its 40th submission.

puppy swimmingCarefully was inspired by a facebook question from a fellow writer: “You guys, how do lifeguards smell?” Without hesitation, I posted that which I made up: “Lifeguards smell like the wind and dead fish.” Then I edited to add, “But not enough to matter.”

Like I said, 40th submission. There were a number of re-writes in there. One–when Cousin Traci arrived–bumped the piece from under 50 words to its current length. That revision did not *pop* the way many ideas do for me. I remember staring at the first paragraph for a long time. It was so boring.  Cara on the beach with only her fantasies. She needed a foil. A square foil.

I started submitting it. I got some good feedback–including one lovely rejection from Tahoma Review, and another excellent note from The Vestal Review. But I never felt the piece was the best it could be. Twice, I stopped submitting so as to work on it.

The second time I sent it to its room, I called on the ineffable Carole L. Glickfeld, with whom I work when my fiction flummoxes me. At that point, the puppy was a one-liner. “They watched him rescue a puppy. Awwwwww.” Remi was not yet identified. The puppy-lifeguard was an amorphous “he.” (Really bad choice; really bad. Never do that again. Never, never, never.)

puppy elf
Puppy Elf writes for you.

Carole was curious about the puppy. “Not enough coming from the puppy.” I worked on the puppy part and then put it away for awhile. Weeks later, I re-read it in preparation for sending to Right Hand Pointing. I forgot I made the change! It was as if the puppy elves did the work for me. How kind!

 

By Alle C Hall, writer!

Alle C. Hall’s flash fiction placed as a finalist for The 2020 Lascaux Prize. Longer work appears most recently in Dale Peck’s Evergreen Review; as well as in Tupelo Quarterly, Creative Nonfiction Magazine, Brevity (blog), and Another Chicago Magazine. Formerly an associate editor at Vestal Review, Alle's additional “wins” include: a Best of the Net nomination; First Place in The Richard Hugo House New Works Competition; and finalist or semi-finalist in the contests of: Boulevard Magazine, Creative Nonfiction Magazine, Hippocampus, and Memoir Magazine.

Claim to fame: interviewed Leonard Nimoy. He was a bit of a pill; disappointing.

• Twitter: @allechall1
• Facebook: Alle C. Hall
• Alle blogs at About Childhood: Answers for Writers, Parents, and Former Children. (allehall.wordpress.com)

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