Ivy Ngeow invited me to be interviewed for her blog segment called “The Writing Life” after I interviewed her for Hello, Author, which is my interview newsletter and website.
A revised and updated version of this post was published in The Ascent. Please read it there (especially if you are a paying member of Medium) because I get paid a little when my piece is read and clapped for. Thank you.
This story took a long time to place. I don’t think it took so long because it was poorly written. In fact, I’ve had some compliments on it over the years. The editor at 34thParallel (one of the first magazines I ever submitted to) had this to say about it:
Let me say I’m impressed by your story; dialect in any form is difficult–damn difficult–for a whole lot of reasons of which I’m sure you’re aware. So I’ll repeat, I’m impressed–damn impressed (if you’ll excuse my language).
Only this April, the editor over at Barren Magazine had this to say about the two dialogue flash fiction stories I had submitted for consideration:
Thank you for sending “Expire” and “Attributes of a Girl” for our review. I really loved the experimentation but (especially “Expire“) we literally couldn’t tell what was happening. I know these responses are annoying but hope it helps a little!
Tahoma Literary Review also found the piece hard to understand. While they apparently made their way through the dialect, they ultimately decided that it didn’t work:
[I]n “Expire,” I found myself working really hard to parse the patois/dialect.
In other words, the form/gimmick outstripped the narrative.
I don’t blame any of these publications for rejecting Expire. It is a short piece and it is purposefully difficult. In fact, that’s the whole point. The form/gimmick is another layer of the theme. In fact, the way the story is presented makes the reading experience mirror the central issue of the story.
If you do figure out what is going on then you realize that the story is about how difficult it is to get a point across when trying to tell a story. The piece is constructed in a way to make it difficult to read. While the narrative revolves around a guy who doesn’t understand a specific word in a story being told about the Titanic, the form of the story itself challenges you, the reader, to understand the story on the page. Expire is printed as a block of text, using only dialogue without any dialogue tags, and one of the speakers in the story uses a black American vernacular. It’s not easy to read.
Expire is hard, and it’s meant to be hard. So I’m not surprised that I’ve received both positive feedback and criticism. Yes, I’m a little surprised it took me a whole decade with at least 33 submission attempts to get Expire published, but published it is at long last by Raw Art Review.
One of the differences with Raw Art Review is their commitment to trying to get a work. And that’s why I think they published this story where others didn’t. Bullet ten of their current submissions guidelines says this:
“Editors assume you are smarter than we are. We will strive to understand your intention ; stay open-minded and try to avoid imposing our presumptions on your work.”
Trace Sheridan, the editor with 34thParallel who was “damn impressed” with the use of dialect in the story, asked to see some more pieces alongside it. She ended up publishing the story Bad Weather instead of Expire. I don’t know exactly why she or her team didn’t publish it, although I think they would have had I had more stories like it—dialogical and dialectical—since she asked to see some more pieces while also asking, “Is this part of a larger set/collection of pieces?” And, at the time, no, it wasn’t a part of anything larger than itself.
Expire did eventually inspire me to spend a year writing dialogues. It was a good year. And I came out of that year with a good collection. Truly, I owe a whole book to Expire that I wouldn’t have otherwise written. Expire not only set the tone and implicit theme of the entire collection, but as a story that took a decade to get published, it reminds me that storytelling is a difficult art, even when you accomplish perfectly what you intended to do, like I did with Expire. It is one of my best pieces. And like many great pieces of storytelling, it says something that not everyone can hear and not everyone will like, but it says what it has to say boldly from the first word to the last little piece of punctuation.
Public House Magazine has republished a story of mine, this time it’s available to read online for free. The original story appeared as Pissing Therapy in their print magazine, themed and designed as a tabloid. The reprint is now titled How To Piss On Your Therapist, cataloged online under their “How To” section.
Thanks to Midnight Mosaic for publishing my dialog-only story Demon Zone for their 13 Days of Dark Lore contest. I’m so happy to see one of my darkest and experimental writings find a home online. Midnight Mosaic publishes on Medium, so click this link to go give it a read.
Some of you might remember this story when I listed it as complete for my 2018 weekly writing challenge. It’s one of my dialogue-only stories, though it’s less of a conversation than a cramped room where three voices are vying for authority. Whether you think this is a story or poem in dialogue, I hope you find it an enjoyable, albeit disturbing, read.
Thanks so much to Public House Magazine for publishing “Therapy” in Issue number 9 of their amazingly transgressive print publication. This is a super special issue because the magazine turns into a full 2019 calendar. Yep, read it, fill in the crossword puzzles, and then hang it up as useful wall art.
“Therapy” is a piece of fiction from my dialogue-only collection, Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations. Public House has published it under the title “Pissing Therapy.”
Winter Reads: 3 short stories for you to cozy up to with a cup of hot cocoa.
❄ ❄ ❄When The Dog Gets Ready to Die
A prose poem about a sad winter night.
❄ ❄ ❄Aunt Phyllis is Yours This Christmas
A funny, slapstick story about siblings at odds.
❄ ❄ ❄Man in the Snow
A meditative story on art in the snow.
Thanks for reading. Leave comment and let me know what you think and subscribe for more. Happy Holidays!
Out of the more than 2,000 writers who were accepted into Z Publishing’s 2018 Emerging Writers series, my story “Everything In Its Right Place” was one of 127 writings picked to be published in the nationwide edition, America’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction. My story is in Volume 1 of the this two-part anthology.
Chef Nip’s Nips is a Youtube channel devoted to cooking some dishes of culinary awesomeness. And on today’s upload, this Youtube star will teach you to make murumples!
Obviously, this is not a real Youtube channel (yet). @ChefNipsNips is a story (my latest dialogue) and one of the most humorous pieces of crap I’ve written. Total crap.
Or is it?
Well, I suppose that’s up to my future editor, my fans, and the critics. Oh, the critics. But, seriously, who wants to cook a murumple? You can find out how just as soon as this baby lands a publisher. Until then, find links and more info about my dialogues here, Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations
My story-in-dialogue, Everything in Its Right Place, has been published in an anthology: Iowa’s Emerging Writers. This is my fifth dialogue to be showcased by a publisher, and the first one available in a print book. You can pick up a copy of Iowa’s Emerging Writers or find your own state’s showcased authors by following this link.
Thanks to anyone who buys a copy, as it helps me out just an a bit.
Take it easy, bookworms.
I am happy to announce that another story from my 2018 dialogue writing challenge has found a new home in The Green Light Literary Journal. The story is Viagra for a Pariah. You can read the whole short story at this link: https://thegreenlightliteraryjournal.wordpress.com/fiction-randaleldongreene/