Archive for July, 2012

by James Claffey

Ten feet tall the sunflowers form a barrier between the house and the fields, the deflated sun melting into the nearby foothills. Sweet air flows along, the scent of sweet peas peppers my nostrils, another perfect California day goes down to night. With narrow pen strokes I freehand an imposter of a drawing in my journal and wonder if the connective tissue between the chapters of my novel hold tight, or whether they’re held together with sticky-tape and saliva.

When I went to LSU to do my MFA I was a novice at the writing game. Sure, I was a hell of a reader, having consumed books for decades, the stacked cases of my family home in Ireland, the ordered shelves of the woman I lived with in Dana Point, CA; the Zen and journal-filled bedroom of the woman who would become my second wife. But, I was unsure of myself when it came to the construction of a fictional world.

The making of a book, writing of a novel, construction of a short story collection, is a bit like entering the lair of the Minotaur. It’s best to arrive armed with some thread you can unravel as you enter the narrow passages of the imagination, because if you can’t navigate the manuscript and make it back out of your fictional perils alive, it’s going to be hard to publish your work! Thanks be to God I was guided through the labyrinth by my mentor, Jeanne Leiby, who diagrammed and dissected my manuscript to show me the importance of the thread in the writing process.

We had some kind of solidarity, Jeanne and I, forged in our respective childhoods, lived out thousands of miles apart, across the vast Atlantic Ocean. Jeanne grew up in hardscrabble Detroit and packed away the memories of what would become her collection of short stories, Downriver. In Dublin, I did much the same thing with my own childhood encounters. My book is yet to see publication, but it exists because of Jeanne’s mentorship.

My novel takes place in two temporal moments: present-day California, and 1980s Dublin. Each chapter begins in the present, delves into the past, and returns to the present. The idea is that something in the present moment triggers the memory, and the triggering moment is the thread into the past. Then something in the memory section has to trigger the return to the present moment, and that is the thread leading out of the labyrinth. This “sandwiched” idea wasn’t working for the longest time. Then, Jeanne figured it out and showed me how to take my thread into the past and return safely to the present. It looks like this on the pages of my manuscript:

(           (           O         )           )

I’m pretty sure what she diagrammed was out of Madison Smartt Bell’s book, Narrative Design. Still, the notion of each flashback having a deliberate relationship to the present made me sit down and take stock of what was going on with my characters and the two time zones they inhabited. Now, I unwind the thread as I write, making sure the connection between sections remains intact, preparing the path home for when I reach the end of the story and retrace my steps.

Some days I wonder whether there’s any art involved in my writing at all, but then I remind myself of the tribe I come from—the Irish. We are storytellers, not Bavarian cuckoo clock makers. Rather, we write rivers, write crosses, write shipwrecks, write broken hearts. The journey begins at the entrance to the cave, the spool of thread ready to go. There’s solidarity with my Irish brothers and sisters, the shared cracked looking glass Joyce wrote of, the drive to create. Gone the hubris, knocked off by Jeanne Leiby’s toughness, the way she pushed for nuance in the writing, the choice of the correct word. “Not yellow, James. The plant wasn’t yellow, it was mustard,” she said once. There is no way to reprise those editorial moments, save in the writing down of the encounters. Instead, I’ll stray over to my favorite coffee shop and order a cupcake, and a latte. No, not the one with the green frosting, but the one with the lime frosting. And I’ll try and figure out how to write my way out of the labyrinth in my present manuscript. Jeanne’d like that.

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James Claffey hails from County Westmeath, Ireland, and lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA, with his wife, the writer and artist, Maureen Foley, their daughter, Maisie, and Australian cattle-dog, Rua. He is the winner of the Linnet’s Wings Audio Prose Competition. His work appears in many places including The New Orleans Review, Connotation Press, A-Minor Magazine, Literary Orphans, and Scissor & Spackle. His blog is at www.jamesclaffey.com.  New stories at: A-Minor   Literary Orphans   Extract(s)   Wordlegs The Weekenders Magazine Bad Penny Review and Carte Blanche

 

by Jim Harrington 

Market Added

View complete markets listing.

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Jim Harrington discovered flash fiction in 2007, and he’s read, written, studied, and agonized over the form since. His Six Questions For. . . blog provides editors and publishers a place to “tell it like it is.” He’s also the Markets Editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles’ Flash Markets Page. You can read his stories on his blog. He can be contacted at jpharrin [at] gmail [dot] com.

by Rumjhum Biswas

Rumjhum Biswas

Kirsty Logan is a fiction writer, journalist, literary magazine editor, teacher, book reviewer, arts intern, and general layabout. She is currently working on a novel, Rust and Stardust, and a short story collection, The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales. In 2009 she graduated from Glasgow University’s Creative Writing MLitt with Distinction; over the next year she won a New Writers Award from The Scottish Book Trust, The Gillian Purvis Award, and third place in the Bridport Prize. She regularly performs her work at events around Glasgow; recent performances further afield include London and Copenhagen, with upcoming readings in Nairn, Edinburgh and Bristol. Her short fiction has been published in around 80 anthologies and literary magazines, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She has a semicolon tattooed on her toe, and lives in Glasgow with her girlfriend. Kirsty can be found here. And in Fractured West, the magazine for flash fiction that she edits along with Helen Sedgewick.

Rumjhum Biswas: Strong coffee…a lot of writers can relate to. Can you tell us a bit more about your love for retold fairy tales and children’s ghost stories? (Incidentally I love these too, though not coffee!)

Kirsty Logan: I love fairy tales and ghost stories, both as entertainment and inspiration. I find that a lot of adult horror goes for shock or gore, and I just don’t find those things scary. When I read horror I want a quick, strange story: a perfect little gem of creepiness. For some reason, I find that children’s scary stories are much more satisfying than those for adults.

Kirsty Logan

And fairytales? Well, I just can’t get enough! They also satisfy my need for a perfect little gem of story, though with fairytales it’s more a desire for strangeness, wonder and a sense of a satisfactory ending. I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on retold fairytales. My favourite are in Emma Donoghue’s wonderful short story collection, “Kissing the Witch”, which I can’t recommend enough.

RB: Your Bridport 2010 3rd prize winning story “Underskirts”, subsequently published in Pank is unusual in that it packs in many voices and POVs into a single short story, with each like a piece of flash leading up to a smooth and sensuous homogenous whole (story).  We’d love to learn more about the process behind “Underskirts”.

KL: I’m not sure how much I can comment on process because most of the time I just stumble and fumble and daydream on the page and somehow, eventually, it becomes a story. I know that for this story, as with most stories I write, I got most of the way through (about 80%) and then got stuck. I talked to my girlfriend about it and, in amongst that talking, the proper ending came to me. She must think I’m crazy because often I’m halfway through explaining a story when the answer occurs, so I stop mid-sentence and say ‘never mind, thank you, love you!’ then run to my laptop. I wrote more about the inspiration behind “Underskirts” in my blog series Thievery.

Incidentally, “Underskirts” is due to be reprinted in Best Lesbian Erotica 2013, which just goes to show that genre is mostly arbitrary!

RB: How often does the sea figure in your writing? What does the sea mean to you?

KL: The sea is a big part of my writing. It symbolises so much to me: freedom and claustrophobia, escape and stagnation, beauty and danger. Britain is such a tiny group of islands, entirely surrounded by water, and sometimes it seems like that makes us so free to go anywhere but sometimes it feels like we’re so isolated. Particularly in Scotland, because we’re so far North and there’s really not much above us but ice. In Britain you’re never really that far from the sea, and I try to go there as much as I can. It reminds me that I’m just one tiny person in an unimaginably huge world, and that never fails to calm me.

RB: You have achieved much success at a young age. Where do you see yourself in your writing journey next?

KL: A book! I have so many short stories published, and I’ve done commissions and performances and radio work and visual art, and I feel that it’s getting to be a bit silly that I don’t have a book yet. I think the problem is that I have such a short attention span, and I get excited about every new project and throw myself into it. I find it hard to sit down for a long period of time and work on a book, which is a huge project. But I have an agent and I feel that things are getting close to being complete. So maybe 2013 will be the year I’ll have a book.

RB: You’re working on a novel and a short story collection. Would you like to talk about your current projects a bit?

KL: Rust and Stardust is a dark, dreamy myth about a young woman trying to escape from her small island home while dealing with her little brother’s death by drowning. It was recently shortlisted for the Dundee Book Prize, and they put out a free e-book including a chapter from the novel, so you can have a wee read of it.

The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales is a short story collection. Some of the stories are retellings of classic fairytales and some are new, modern fables – it’s got clockwork hearts, paper men, circuses, and a gracekeeper. The stories have won prizes and been published in many literary journals, but I’ve been writing some brand-new stories too. I reckon I have one more story to write, then it will be finished.

RB: How many flash pieces do you have in your short story collection?

KL: If flash is defined as ‘under 1,000 words’, then only one. It’s called “Beauty”, it’s inspired by “Sleeping Beauty”, and you can read it at Annalemma.

RB: I understand you are also working on You Look Good Enough to Eat Me, a chapbook of poetry and flash fiction. That’s an interesting title! Do the poems and stories follow a particular theme? We’d like to know more about your chapbook.

KL: The theme, which won’t be surprising from the title, is sex. Each of the poems and flashes look at intimacy, the body and relationships, often from a sexual or romantic angle, but also looking at the intimacy of parenthood, the liminality of the body, and how easily relationships can be built or broken. All my writing is about intimacy, really.

RB: Prior to your writing life, did anyone inspire you or help you become a writer?

KL: My parents were always an inspiration. They raised me in a house with a wall of books, none of which were off-limits to me, not even the ones about monsters or with bare breasts on the cover. I read George Orwell’s 1984 and JG Ballard’s Crash when I was far too young to know what they were really about, selected purely because the covers looked like something I shouldn’t be reading! Although they shocked and disturbed me, I’m glad I was given the chance to read them. I had a loving, supportive childhood, so I felt safe being unnerved by fiction. While I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I see now how my parents’ trust and belief in me helped me to have faith in myself.

RB: Which writers do you enjoy reading most these days?

KL: I really enjoyed the latest novels from Louise Welsh, Sadie Jones, John Burnside, Jane Harris, Tana French and Emily Mackie. I love a good strong story, beautifully written, in a setting so vivid I think I’ve really been there – and all of the above writers deliver on that.

In terms of new writers, I think the ones to watch are Katy McAulay, Mercedes Yardley, Lynsey May, Amber Sparks, and Allan Wilson.

RB: I understand you always wanted to start a flash fiction magazine, and when you and Helen Sedgwick shared your views you found a like minded editor in each other. Can you take us to that day when you and Helen first discussed this? What was on your mind and how did you feel about the challenge? What steps did the two of you take after the initial brainstorming?

KL:It was a pretty spur-of-the-moment decision! Helen and I met on Glasgow University’s Creative Writing MLitt course, and we stayed in touch when it finished. It soon became clear that we liked a lot of the same sorts of books and stories, and we both wanted a new project after we finished university. We thought that editing a magazine would be fun, and so I applied for the Gillian Purvis Award (Helen graduated a year before me, and the award can only be given to students in their final year of postgraduate study). The application consisted of my own writing, but it was clear that I intended to use the prize money to launch Fractured West. That prize allowed us to launch the magazine. We work on a shoestring budget: the price of the issue covers the printing and postage costs to get the issue out to people, and the prize money pays for contributor copies, any promotion, and the launch events. Helen and I don’t take any money at all for our editing work, and my partner Susie McConnell is a freelance graphic designer at Firebrat so she very kindly does all of our print and web design for free. I think that the clean, professional design is part of the reason that the magazine has been successful, so we’re eternally grateful to Susie.

We had no idea what we were getting into, and things I thought would be simple always turn out to be so time-consuming and complicated! But editing the magazine is a joy, and I’m so glad that I’m on this journey with Helen.

RB: You find it hard not to be inspired, but “lassoing it into a coherent structure” requires more work. Can you tell us something about your writing process? Perhaps a little glimpse into your writing day?

KL: I have spent years trying to develop a writing schedule, but it never quite works out. My only rule is that I always write 100 words a day, no matter what. Even on the craziest, most hectic day, there is always time to take ten minutes and jump into my story. I often write my 100 words on my phone and email it to myself to be added to my work-in-progress. I’m always thinking about my current story, daydreaming about the characters and locations, trying to pick holes in the plot to make sure it’s sturdy. When it’s time to write I don’t need time to ‘get into it’, as I’m already there. I do write a lot, but it’s nothing compared to the time I spend daydreaming!

RB: Do you have any favourite genres in flash fiction? As a reader? As a writer?

KL: Both as a writer and read I love vivid, hyperreal, dreamy sort of stories. I love stories that do new things with old tales. I like to be surprised, I like the lullaby of words and syntax. Most of all, I love a story that takes me away to a vivid world and makes me feel a real emotion.

RB: Can you share some great pieces of flash that you’ve read lately? Also please give us a link to one or two of your own that you particularly enjoyed writing, with a couple of sentences about them.

KL: Lynsey May’s Two Dancing Doves (audio), Joe Kapitan’s Fossils, Amber Sparks’  You Will be the Living Equation.

My story “Love Riot: A Manual” at FRiGG. I love writing in vignettes, little prose-poems. And I love second person narration too, though I don’t do it often.

My story “The Romance of History” at For Every Year.  I love this project! One story for every single year since 1400. It’s a beautiful idea and the stories never fail to inspire me.

RB: What words of advice do you have for writers who submit to Fractured West?

KL: Read the magazine, send us your best work, and don’t be discouraged by rejection – from us or from anyone else.

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Rumjhum Biswas is a writer based in Chennai. Her fiction and poetry have been published all over the world. She has prizes and accolades for poetry and fiction inIndia and abroad, including having one of her stories among Story South’s top ten stories of 2007, being long listed for the Bridport in poetry in 2006, shortlisted for Aesthetica’s Creative Works in 2011 and recently the first prize in the Anam Cara Writer’s Retreat Competition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Michelle Reale

Heather Fowler’s   just released collection of short stories, People With Holes, is brave, honest and not just a little daring–a lot like the author herself!

Michelle Reale: People with holes is daring to say the least—it is full of revenge and sex—tell me about the process of writing about these themes—are you , perhaps, exorcising some demons for womankind? 

Heather Fowler: In all honesty, mine are the only demons I can effectively exorcise while immersed in the interrogative capacity of creating art—my fears and issues, dark dreams belonging to me (predominantly in an unwelcome baggage sort of capacity)—but if other women feel empowered by what I do, that’s always a glorious and worthwhile thing to hear. I don’t know where I’m going with much of my work until after it’s complete. I only know that, as a writer, I want to be a voice that does not say: Lie down and take it. Give up. Accept diminished status or abuse.

That said, as a reader, before I became a writer, I remember having a huge gratitude each time I found feminine voices (Flannery O’Connor, Anais Nin, Jeanette Winterson, Shirley Jackson, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, etc.) that could articulate my thoughts and feelings more accurately than I had seen them represented by male authors. The writers I adored most were mainly those with voices that expressed a perspective or multiple perspectives in which the POV or main character was the black sheep, the oddity, the one outside of normalcy. Examining the viewpoint of the “other,” in practice, in sympathy, in identification, tends to decreases one’s own feeling of other. For women writers, I think it’s often about finding our own voices and our own vehicles for visibility, embracing the “other” in particular that combats a two-dimensional stereotype of femininity. It does bother me that most known literary heroines have been written by men. I’d like to see that change.

As to writing about revenge and sex, motivations or process—I love this question. Revenge, as it occurs in my work, is always about loss. As in a situation of war, even in victory, no one wins. They had to vanquish or be vanquished. Sex is simply the currency of erotic exchange. If one writes love, one writes sex, necessarily—unless the dynamics of the artwork addressed are more involved with analyzing familial love or platonic love, conflicts with the environment.

I think I address revenge in my work, as a plot point, but what I am really doing is not attempting to kill one side or the other—moreso to create a narrative that addresses the intricacies of attachment, how it disintegrates or grows. What aspects of the intellectual, emotional, physical dynamic a relationship either supports or condemns to die a slow aching death.

MR: One of the beautiful things about this collection is the magic realism. I love it , for instance, that one can cut off a boyfriends head, carry it around , and not be convicted of murder! You can get away with that scenario in traditional story telling. How has the device helped you to get your point across?

HF: Fiction, for me, is about emotional truth. Sometimes you want to cut off your ex-boyfriend’s head and carry it around, make him give you an explanation, remove the barriers of the lust for the body and hormonal confusion—take only the head—examine what it was between your head and his head that made a dialogue that continues to haunt you so effectively. If fiction is emotional nudity, though I work in many genres and do traditional work as well, magical realism, for me, is full-force emotional nudity, and when magic is involved, being that it provides a pregnant and full vehicle for discourse with the vivid experience of feeling quite intensely, the use of this device is just an amplification of the quieter murmurs a work may release. Interestingly, this understanding of how I use my work and what defines which genre a piece requires , is a revelation I’ve had only recently—because I used to fear non-fiction and felt much safer in a narrative in which I could cloak my reality.

I laugh at myself now—as this second collection of magical realism emerges like a bloody, screaming baby from my womb.

MR: Your writing voice is incredibly unique and your women characters not only outwardly bold but brave: I like the way they think and interact, with agency for themselves. Is this an ideology of yours?

HF: Yes. Women must act with agency for themselves. Perhaps I am strange or different in that I have always thought that women acting with agency for themselves was the norm as opposed to the exception. This causes a rather strange ripple within me when I see the world as much larger and more diverse, more misogynistic than I knew. As a child predominantly raised by a very strong mother, a mother who many times in my youth acted as both mother and father, I have a healthy respect for what women are capable of doing and what they should or should not accept. At the same time, I’ve seen a lot of suffering, a lot of upheaval, which creates the empathy I have toward women in hard straits. It also creates the feeling I have that women must create community for each other, must help   each other where possible. I think that’s part of the reason that I gave my first year of proceeds from Suspended Heart to the San Diego Family Justice Center. I continue to do so. People with Holes really speaks to this, I feel. Working against what women are up against—yet with a realism. The truest stories often have no happy endings, but what one has, what one wants to have, is hope, strength, a willingness to express. I am also truly blessed to have found a publisher for this second collection, Pink Narcissus Press, that was willing to match my charitable contribution and flout the sort of censorship that would often make it hard to publish a book that speaks so openly about sex and love in a graphic yet literary capacity, a book that, say, uses almost every existent English word for human genitals and rarely closes the bedroom door.

I’m also very excited to soon publish another risky assemblage of stories with the publisher of my first book, Aqueous Books, a dystopic collection entitled This Time, While We’re Awake. That one, by nature, is less sexual but still makes aggressive commentary on society and the class-constructs that oppress both women and men. It’s lovely, actually, to have two books either just released or soon to be released where I feel I have been really liberated to articulate things I felt fearful about articulating before. Whole books of ideological mayhem.

MR: Proceeds from this book go to a cause you greatly believe in. Speak about that.

HF: I wanted to give this book to Planned Parenthood for a number of reasons—as an artist’s protest against the gross violations of women that are currently reversing our political progress in the US government today, as a statement of support for women’s reproductive rights and health, as a thank you for all the wonderful things Planned Parenthood has done to advocate for generations of women without voices and  because this book is a book about the consequences of love and sexuality, it struck me as a good match for this organization—but this decision has only been reinforced and amplified by recent conversations I’ve had with the women in my life.

My aunt works as a Deputy in the San Diego County jail; let’s start with that. When people think of Planned Parenthood, they often think of the hotspot abortion. They think of securing birth control. They think of healthcare for those without adequate insurance. I thought of those things too. But to learn that Planned Parenthood goes into the county jails here and is the primary source of healthcare for women who are in truly dire circumstances made my heart happy to know, as did the way may aunt spoke so kindly and engagingly about these women she’d worked with from the clinic at the jail, those who came to help inmates, some of whom hid various toxic objects and health risks in their genitals: “No judgment. No judgment,” was what she said the attitude of the Planned Parenthood representatives was. I like that sort of help. Humanitarian, humane.

MR: Have you gotten any interesting feedback from men on the collection?

HF: I have! Interestingly, I think men don’t like other men acting badly either, are happy for comeuppances for less savory types, and enjoy when my female characters experience success or liberation via my narratives. Perhaps they want these sorts of heroines for themselves. I think that quite a few intelligent men are fascinated to understand a fully articulated female sexual perspective. Most men, however, it should be duly noted, were quite disturbed, flummoxed into pallor, by the detachable penis in the “White Lab-Rat Shaped Penis” story. My tongue was deeply in my cheek there, but their eyes were on their groins, perhaps making promises for solidarity.

MR: You are a lively and witty and endearing presence on Facebook —as a writer, speak to the burden and blessing on both your personal and writing life that are the two-sides of the social media coin.

HF: Ah. Social media. It is hard to stay away. It’s a sort of mixed blessing in that it is both my main source for connection with other artists and writers, since I live in Southern California, and an enormous waste of time. I’m torn, almost daily, between avoiding my computer and caressing it as if it were attached to various integral organs.

MR:You write in so many different genres—how do you stay so prolific? What keeps you motivated?

HF: Life keeps me motivated. Writing is my mode of expressing the thoughts that become poisonous if let to sit. I write in many genres because the ideas demand them, request them. If something acts like a poem, walks like a poem, sounds like a poem—but then inexplicably gets longer, perhaps it is a novel in verse like Anne Carson’s excellent Autobiography of Red. I stay prolific because I am motivated by what moves me and a lot moves—people move me. Luckily, right now, there is no shortage of people around. Wonderful and creative writers and editors like yourself. If we sit together long enough, I will have a story. But I am easily overstimulated. Sometimes I think I’m like a baby in a crib who gets sensory overload from various stimuli and often needs a nap after  being overwhelmed—though no one can tell exactly what I was doing to create such exhaustion.

MR: Please give your best Heather Fowler advice for writers, men or women, who are trying to attain authenticity in their writing but hold back.

HF: If you are an author who is repressed, imagine that the same fodder you are holding back, limiting, is creating a dark place in your brain, a secret shaming space, a void, an omission in your ability to articulate, a puncture in the light holistic self. Imagine that to let this thing out is the only way you can ever both see it fully and be rid of it.

There is no point holding back— if holding back harms your expression.

After publishing many things I’ve been terrified to put out there, in my experience, the hardest things to express, the ones I felt the most odd or uncomfortable in revealing, the ones I cried to write, were the ones that readers responded to quite strongly, the ones that may have mattered most.

Don’t be selfish. Give that to your readers. Give you to your readers in all your minutia and complexity. Let them see your “other” because that is your unique gift, your unique voice. In the end, there’s a universality in “other,” don’t you think? Maybe one day we can all stop being so terrified about how strange we think we are and sort of revel in our strangeness. There is a reason stories like “The Metamorphosis” have such lasting power to entice and enchant. We are all stranger than we’d like to admit. We are all “other.” Anyway, that’s my hope.

Many thanks for having me here today.

MR: Heather, it was an absolute pleasure—as it always is!

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Heather Fowler is the author of the story collections Suspended Heart (Aqueous Books, Dec. 2010), People with Holes (Pink Narcissus Press), and This Time, While We’re Awake (Aqueous Books, forthcoming Spring 2013). She received her M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University. Her work has been published online and in print in the US, England, Australia, and India, and appeared in such venues as PANK, Night Train, storyglossia, Surreal South, JMWW, Prick of the Spindle, Short Story America, and others, as well as having been nominated for both the storySouth Million Writers Award and Sundress Publications Best of the Net. Her poetry and fiction have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is Poetry Editor at Corium Magazine and a Fiction Editor for the international refereed  Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures & Societies (USA). You can visit her  website  here.

 

by Erin Entrada Kelly

There’s a lot of snarkiness in the world and a big chunk of it sits in the contentious laps of writers. Whether it’s bickering about self-publishing or bashing the silliness of Twilight, there’s plenty of banter about what belongs on bestseller lists and what constitutes “good fiction.”

Flash writers have a vested interest in this bickering, since flash fiction has largely been an online craft and online literary magazines have only recently edged their way to respectable status. With blogs and do-it-yourself sites, new lit mags appear on search engines every day, adding another log to the bickering fire (there are so many ways for unaccomplished writers to publish their work that they’re watering down the market!, say the naysayers).

No matter what you do or who you are, there’s plenty to complain about. I’ve listened to writers lambast the success of Fifty Shades of Grey and use it to illustrate their opinions about the failings of traditional publishing, the ignorance of modern readers or the general breakdown of literature altogether.

Meanwhile, I shrug and think: I don’t care what E.L. James writes. I don’t care if she makes millions on an erotic novel that may or may not be poorly written. I don’t care if she’s on the bestseller list for 100 weeks. I say, Congratulations, E.L. James. Your voice found a place.

I don’t care if thirty-two new literary blogs were created yesterday and if fourteen more are created today. I don’t care if self-publishing tyrants take over Amazon and use CreateSpace to push their own form of literature. I don’t care if Jessica Park thinks traditional publishing is lame and sells millions of her self-published book online. I say, Congratulations, Jessica Park. Your voice found a place.

When I started writing short fiction, online literary magazines were considered the bastard stepchild of places like Paris Review, Tin House and Glimmer Train. And if online mags were a stepchild, then flash fiction was its wayward cousin. But I didn’t care about that either. I thought online literary magazines were liberating and I preferred them–no matter what the naysayers said. And when I discovered flash fiction, I embraced it.

Here are things I do care about: Writing good fiction. Telling great stories. Connecting with readers, whether through a 50,000-word novel or a 100-word piece of flash that appears on an unknown Web site. I care about positioning myself so that my voice is heard, too.

Things change. Publishing is no different. If you spend all your time focusing on everyone else’s voice instead of strengthening your own, you’ll probably fall silently behind.

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Erin Entrada Kelly is staff editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles. Her fiction has been published widely in places like Keyhole Magazine, Monkeybicycle and the Kyoto Journal. She was short-listed for the Eric Hoffer National Fiction Prize and the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction. Her debut novel is forthcoming from HarperCollins’ Greenwillow Books. She currently works as a freelance fiction editor. Read more at www.erinentradakelly.com or find her on Facebook.