"The Great Ultimate": a question from a reader.

I don’t know whether to post this, but I am such a vain, silly pig that I will: On Facebook, a reader asked how I went about structuring my sentences. She wrote, “You write in a way that I haven’t read before. The way your narrator reflects. The way you add these to your story. Short and precise but not abrupt.” 

I thought I should pontificate.

Part of it is just the way I think. Another part is conscious. An agent once told me to cut my 400-page tome to 200 pages or fewer. I started by pulling out every “I” possible. Next, I realized that sentences (and paragraphs) of all the same length turned the page into literary Sominex. This realization led me to play with sentence and paragraph length.

“The Great Ultimate” is not the only piece of fiction in which I play with this technique. Check out perhaps the most experimental of these undertakings: Let Me Feel for You – the episode that, in Carlie’s chronology, directly precedes “The Great Ultimate.”

By the Numbers: "The Great Ultimate"

 

david-humphrey-tangle
Original art for “The Great Ultimate” by David Humphrey.

“The Great Ultimate” was the most recent of the four short stories adapted from chapters of my as-of-yet-unpublished (grumble) novel, and in October of 2018, I was eager to start sending it out.

I submitted “The Great Ultimate” to fourteen magazines before Evergreen said yes. For me, fourteen is an extraordinarily small number of submissions prior to acceptance.

Getting into Evergreen took some gumshoe. Finding no formal submission process on their website, I first sent a different story, I Wanted Ten, to the “info” address—just an attachment to an email. Heard nothing. For months. When “I Wanted Ten” was accepted by Blue Lake Review, I did what The Big They say you are supposed to do in such a situation: I contacted Evergreen—again, by simple email—describing the situation and offering instead “The Great Ultimate.” I’ll let Dale take the story, from here.  (Link: dale-peck-announces-alles-short-story-the-great-ultimate.)

 

My Hangover Killed Lou Reed.

Gotcha with the title, didn’t I? This is not my work, but a piece I edited for jmww journal. (Title in lower-case, indicating depth and literary quality.) It’s by Richard Prins. My Hangover … is Prins’s second piece for me. Come back for his debauched rumble, Already Yesterday.

How to travel as a writer.

Someone on Facebook asked for information about maximizing time when on a research trip for a novel. What ho!

  1. Set a time every day to FaceTime or Skype with your children.
  2. Have something else going on. For example, I practice Tai Chi. I knew that there would be a lot of parks where the Chinese community practiced in the early mornings. I made a point to be in the neighborhood park by 6am. I met so many caring locals. They told me great places to eat and insider tips about the city that your characters need to know. One also helped me figure out which neighborhood in Bangkok my main character would live in.
  3. Spend more time on your book than seeing the sights. Limit sight seeing to elements that appear in the book.
  4. Write or edit on the plane. You write; food arrives. Tea arrives. Life doesn’t get better–until your kids arrive!
  5. Use your computer rather than a notebook. On days I used my notebook, I was too exhausted to transfer my notes. Still haven’t.
  6. Go to a library. My novel is set in the mid-90s. In the 90s, no newspaper in Cambodia published on-line. I went to the library at the Hun Sen University and read bound, back issues of newspapers.

Bon Voyage!