Thursday, March 13, 2008

No, Unmasked

Tears were streaming down my cheeks as I drove to work this morning.

It's hard to face no after no after no. Really makes a mark on your confidence, like graffiti on a building adding up to ugly.

I'm learning, though.

Whether you stare down no nine times or seventeen times or twenty-one times, all it takes is one yes to erase it all. Gone. Forgotten. Meaningless.

I'm talking about stories I've written and rejection letters I've received.

All it took was one journal to say yes to "What She Said."

One to say yes to "Don't Stop Now."

And now one to say yes to "Pray for Rain."

This time there's even prize money involved as "Pray for Rain" has just been named the winner of the Blue Mesa Review fiction contest and will be included in Issue 21, due out in May.

But more important than any prize, large or small, is knowing that someone gets your story. That they understand the nuances that others missed.

So I'd like to say thank you to the good folks at the Beloit Fiction Journal, Hobart, Blue Mesa Review, and Inkwell Management (final judges of the contest).

For me the frustration of no upon no melted away this morning in a delayed reaction of sudden tears as Bruce Springsteen sang, "It's been a long time coming, my dear. It's been a long time coming, but now it's here."

I was singing, too, at the top of my lungs.

No is an imposter.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hot Spot

News flash ... or should I say flash news?

The master of the "flash" form of literary nonfiction, Gretchen Clark, is back this month with "A Hot Spot" on Flashquake.

Stay tuned. From what I hear, there are more stories in the publishing pipeline.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Land of Enchantment

From Albuquerque we drive north in our rented Ford Escort, playing “The Vanishing Breed” over and over.

It’s cloudy but warm and the landscape looks a lot like California at first, but as we follow the Turquoise Trail into the hills, everything changes. The ground rises, rocky and dotted with sage brush. We round a bend and everything is green. A forest of small trees spreads out before us.

All the while Robbie Robertson and the Red Road Ensemble work their magic.

The workplace is all but forgotten.

The land is an odd combination of very flat and very hilly. We stop along the roadside to retrieve some snacks from the trunk and see our first arroyo on the other side of a barbed-wire fence where three cows graze.

We’re not in any hurry. We can do whatever we want. It’s an uncommon feeling, and we like it.

That was my first impression of New Mexico, a state my wife and I have visited many times since. I'm thinking fondly of the Land of Enchantment right now because I just got word from the Blue Mesa Review that I'm one of five finalists in its annual short story contest.

Wish me luck!