So I’ve done it!
Thanks to Khara House for the kick-in-the-pants. I’ve now sent 13 stories out into the literary universe. One has already been accepted, thanks Spry! For taking “Two Trunks.” One has already been rejected, thanks, Lascaux, for giving “Have You Seen” a look. We’ll try to find a home for it elsewhere.
So here’s the final week’s roundup:
Everyone knows the bureaucracy of registering your vehicle can be tedious, but has it ever made you feel like you’ve lost the last shreds of your sanity? This is a rare first-person short story because I simply didn’t know how else to tell it. Favorite line:
The camel-toed crotch followed me back into the parking lot, recorded the license plate details, noted the inspection sticker, pulled the seatbelt across her lap, and administered a driving test. She seemed unhappy when I passed. I felt crazy enough to drive into oncoming traffic with her in the passenger seat.
Submitted to The Bellows American Review because what’s more American than hating your fellow Americans in all their misshapen body, attitude-bearing, brutal honesty?
Like Gordon Finch, this story has been around for a while. But it was the addition of the first call and the tying of the two together that really made the story work. It’s about a woman who receives two phone calls to two separate residences, six years apart, both of which become pivotal moments for her. Favorite moment:
Very few people have cell phones. The phones are still rather clunky, the size of a can of vegetables and almost as heavy. Mare’s has a translucent orange cover that lights up when it rings but it rarely does. When someone calls it, the phone sings an electronic song that Mare sometimes doesn’t recognize as her ring tone.
To me, the cell phone description juxtaposes nicely with the home phone, that impersonal umbilical to the universe outside of one’s home. I like that the cell phone’s individuality and independence are not fully realized yet and so there’s a sort of in-between time when the home phone is frustratingly abused by unknown callers but the cell phone isn’t entirely adopted.
Anyway, this one went to Shadow Road who suggests submissions ought to be about characters who are struggling with things we can identify with. Without giving away the story, Mare’s struggles are adolescent-to-adult and family-shelter-to-independent-person. Who hasn’t been through that?
I’ve worked on Sunday School since last summer when I saw a group of elderly folks holding class under a tree outside their church. It was the Sunday morning after a tremendous wind storm had knocked out the power in middle Virginia and I thought, isn’t it too hot for them out there? What do different circumstances do to their weekly polite conversation? Favorite line:
What did Anne Marie know of Daniel? Of a lion’s den? Of anything, really, except how doggone hot it was. Ninety eight degrees in the shade. We ought to be prayin don’t none of us have a stroke. Mr. Mahoney and his “we don’t have a choice.” Shoot, they did so. They could have gone home and suffered this heat alone. With dignity. In their underwear.
This one went to Arcadia partly because it’s really long (4,910 words) and they have no limit. But also, because the conversation is subtle and the moments are intentionally understated. The story I read that they’d published, King of the Apes, had the kind of subtlety I hope “Sunday School” has.
So that’s it.
Submit-O-Rama is over and I’ll just get to sit back and wait on the acceptances (!) or rejections (boo!) as they come. My fiction is out into the literary universe and the goal of Submit-O-Rama was to push beyond my comfort zone and challenge myself.
When at the end of last week I had three stories left to send and all three needed significant work, I could have quit. But I didn’t.
And even if they are rejected, at least they went.
I feel pleased with the process above all and with the work, too, for the most part.
How did your Submit-O-Rama wrap up?