I could not be more thrilled to announce that I am now a first reader for Vestal Review, the longest-running magazine dedicated solely to flash fiction.
Some dear friends call the first reader position “The Gatekeeper.” One could also think of it as the receptionist: I am one of a crew of folks who each read 20-30 submissions a week, straight from the submissions in-box. If I believe piece is excellent and suits the magazine, I send it on.
If I don’t, it goes down the shoot.
One of the great things about this position is that it will allow me to keep up with my work at jmww. So I get to be a small fish in a big pond and a big fish in a smaller pond.
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.
Carefully 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.)
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!