Forum / Fictionaut Writers in Micro Anthology

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    David Ackley
    Jun 08, 12:41pm

    I picked up the anthology NEW MICRO Exceptionally Short Fiction (Norton, 2018) and was happy to see alongside the likes of Amy Hempel, Joyce Carol Oates, and Joy Williams, old Fictionaut cronies, Pia Erhardt, Meg Tuite,( whose Micros were first published on Fictionaut and so credited) Kathy Fish, Meg Pokrass, Barry Basden, Michelle Elvy, Robert Vaughan, and Kyle Hemmings and several others who were on Fictionaut before my time like Gay Degani, Len Kuntz, Kim Chinquee, and Tara Laskowski.

    Great work, all.

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    Gary Hardaway
    Jun 08, 01:20pm


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    Jun 08, 03:38pm

    David, thanks for noting.

    This anthology provokes questions that've been percolating through yours truly for some time. The questions pertain to writers, readers, and publishers all, viz.:

    how is flash fiction to be published in print?

    (Note the implicit assumption that flash fiction merits print publication.)

    When might we begin to see flash collections not of multiple flash authors but of individual writers?

    MUST flash collections be arranged by theme or topic? Why?

    What aesthetics peculiar to flash might dictate the terms of presentation in publication?

    I perceive that flash continues to be treated by both print publishers and astute academics wholly unseriously. (In response I no longer take contemporary novels of any type at all seriously.)

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    David Ackley
    Jun 09, 08:43pm

    Hi Edward,

    You're welcome, I'm sure.

    As to your questions, I have neither authority nor answers, as my track record shows. It is interesting that a good many of the pieces in the anthology were first published in online venues familiar to most of us: Flash Frontier, Flash Fiction Online, Pure Slush Books. and Fictionaut among others.

    By another standard than big-time publication, that is, Art, the ones published on Fictionaut are the equal of or better than those by the heavy hitters in the anthology: Hempel, Dybek, Oates, the Williams sisters, et al. I'd particularly single out "Brides," by Pia Erhardt which is not only brilliant, but exemplifies what a Flash can do by way of intense compression, a novel in a bottle.

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    Chris Okum
    Jun 11, 11:50pm

    Who do you have to know in order to get published in one of these things?

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    Mathew Paust
    Jun 12, 01:27am

    To answer one of Edward's questions, Meg Pokrass has been publishing flash collections for nearly a decade. Her latest is Alligators at Night.

    I reviewed it here:

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    Smiley McGrouchpants Jr.
    Jun 12, 03:12am

    At first, I thought strannikov's comment was "David, thanks for nothing."

    I was like, "Whoa! What's *that* about?"

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    David Ackley
    Jun 12, 11:58am

    It's funny, Grouchy, that's how I read it too, until reading your comment. But I just took it as Edward's irony. Creative misreading?

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    David Ackley
    Jun 12, 12:00pm


    Clearly, I don't know them, whoever "they" are.

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    Mathew Paust
    Jun 12, 12:27pm

    Taking a stab at Chris's question, I strongly suspect it takes some social initiative--difficult for the more introverted among us. Working the nets, scratching backs (even here, it all matters), and, the ultimate forum: the MFA route where known faculty can attest with the expected passwords that you're a "serious" writer. Talent, of course is a given, but we all think we have the inside track there.

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    David Ackley
    Jun 12, 01:41pm

    I think you're right for the most part, Mathew. The only thing I might quarrel is your idea of the MFA as the "ultimate." As writing programs have proliferated the sheer number of graduates has debased the currency of the MFA. All by itself, it means little now, and I think no editor would make a decision to publish based on it.

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    Mathew Paust
    Jun 12, 01:49pm

    Wouldn't dream of suggesting an MFA would be an automatic key to the gate, David, but it puts one within the perceived category of "elite," which I suspect is where most serious publishers look for candidates.

    Chris, Meg Pokrass just put this up on Facebook. Might be worth a try:

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    Mathew Paust
    Jun 12, 09:28pm

    In the event anyone is still interested, here's a link to Ad Hoc Fiction, which specialized in flash and micro. Michelle Elvy's new novel, The Everrumble, will be released by Ad Hoc later this month.

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    Mathew Paust
    Jun 12, 09:29pm

    "specializes" Sorry

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    David Ackley
    Jun 13, 01:08pm

    Just a couple of observations.

    Getting anything published on paper has become
    increasingly hard, narrowly accessible only by a very few who have established reputations and whose works are saleable.

    Perhaps accordingly, very few novels that appear are worth reading.

    Shorter works, whether flash or collections of short stories have been more interesting to read for the last decade or so. The best piece of fiction by an established writer I've read in a major venue over the last decade was "Going for a Beer," by Robert Coover. It was one page long in the New Yorker.

    One the other hand it was no better than any number of short pieces I've read on Fictionaut in the same period.

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    Chris Okum
    Jun 13, 06:53pm

    I have been trying for over 10 years now to get get published in a print source such as the one promoted in this thread, to no avail. I have come to the conclusion that my lack of success is because I am either not a good enough writer, or, I simply do not know how to network and butter the right muffins. Which one it is remains to be seen.

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    Mathew Paust
    Jun 13, 07:24pm

    You're welcome, Chris.

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    Ann Bogle
    Jul 21, 09:41pm

    Michelle Elvy contacted me and asked me for flash fictions to submit to the Norton Anthology. I gave her one of my best stories, under 1,000 words. It was a delayed story, published in a very low budget print publication, written in 1990. Michelle had to break the news to me that my few submissions were not selected, and I accepted it. It was a nice honor to be asked to submit. Now I am quitting writing, which is taking years, and I am glum about it and developing physical issues. Maybe I will rise again and write a new book. Previous books can be published later and not in order of composition. It might not be too late.

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    David Ackley
    Jul 29, 01:36pm


    Sorry to hear you're "quitting writing," which itself sounds difficult. Yours is a necessary voice, that once heard is hard to forget or discount. One always wants to know what you have to say, regardless of form or subject.

    Remember Beckett: " I can't go on. I'll go on."



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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 04, 04:04pm


    This morning a loving friend wrote a brilliant essay in email about being someone who is a survivor of massacres in both his home town of El Paso and his adult life town of Binghamton, NY.

    The story I sent to Norton was called Texas Was Better in the Story of Your Birth in El Paso's Fluke of a Dust Storm shortened to Texas Was Better.

    So I remembered it and that it is still needed.

    And writing is needed.

    And, as I wrote personally to you, not to write is oppressive, and I know better.


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    Amantine B
    Aug 31, 12:10pm

    Hi; I come late to this discussion as to most other things here in Fnaut.

    I had two micro collections of micro poetry published by Ether Books when it ventured first into 'app publishing'. Both were drawn from my rather prolific output on twitter several years ago when I was far more engaged online than I am these days. One collection was drawn from a poetic exchange I had and it became a 'conversation'. The other was a collection of 'soulfood' micro pieces.

    What was interesting for me at that time was the discovery of how writing under names offered me different voices which seemed to organically emerge with the name by which I wrote any given piece. It was an unexpected outcome and I came to understand how my previous online presence had come in the way of both how I wrote and how I was being read: suddenly I found myself with different literary voices and with it different readers. It was a fascinating evolution of identity through linguistic style and register. It lasted several years and I found myself in artistic freefall: I wrote maniacally and stumbled accidentally into improvisation which when I went back to read much later were unrecognisable as 'my writing'. This 'otherness' persists even now, though I 'produce' much less.

    During that period I was also introduced to a new Japanese five-line free form by the poet ( himself a haiku specialist) with whom the conversational collection was cultivated. He introduced me to the inventor of the Gogyohka form (which evolves from the Tanka), a Japanese poet, Enta Kusakabe, with whom I began an exchange about mircro writing. Under his critical guidance I began concentrating on Gogyohshi as I found it excellent technically for honing expressive clarity through serious brevity.

    Around this time I accidentally too came across the daily sketches of an American artist. His sketches came alive somehow to me, like characters in a novella and the longer I looked at selected ones, the louder they spoke. I took a risk one day and improvised a poem to one drawing and sent it to the artist, hoping he hadn't taken offence. That began what has become an ongoing collaboration: it began as an improvisatorium and now is honed down to a Gogyohka per drawing.

    I find myself increasingly drawn to writing in response to art or photography. I was taken aback by it initially as it questioned my inner poetic purist; only for me to have to acknowledge that with a background in theatre, dance, music, opera and performance, inter-media collaborations are intrinsic and were among my earliest professional commissions.

    It shifted my thinking about writing as a preferentially MA - academically driven enterprise and unburdened me of all those pedantic expectations that someday I might win over some legendary Faber & Faber editor or even someone at Bloodaxe and I abandoned writing to "Prosterity"!
    I could relax - none of those two things or others were ever going to happen.

    I could finally return to my naturally liminal self and bugger the wordcount.

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 31, 03:10pm

    As I've not gotten into the academic writing milieu, my impetus comes almost solely from within, a need to address something emerging there as clearly and honestly as I can. I've never been drawn to the study of form--either to understanding it or using it. I say "almost" because I can recall two occasions when I followed prompts, just for the hell of it. One was to use the sonnet form, for which I did a parody that was received with kindly good humor. The other was a flash piece that ironically won first place in a little online contest. Most of my ideas (inner prompts?), and many lines of poems, come during my morning walks thru our village.

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    James Claffey
    Jan 13, 03:15am

    Yes, lots of us Fictionauteers in the New Micro collection and several of us are in the earlier Flash Fiction International from Norton, as well.

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