A Little Ditty Concerning The Story “Chunks of Wall”

12 Mar

First off, I’m so happy “Chunks of Wall” got picked up by a magazine featuring international artists; I always thought it might fit better at a publication like that. But there’s an interesting story that goes with this piece. I started shopping this around last year during early spring. It made its usual rounds at the usual independent ‘zines, and–as I expected–got rejected. Over and over. But I noticed that one particular publication, the esteemed F Magazine, had been looking at it for a looong while (“In-Progress”). We, writers, don’t usually have any idea of what’s going on when a story is “In Progress” for so long. It may mean that it’s going through the several editorial levels or processes, or it’s being discussed/debated, or just simply is “on deck to be read still.” Or I may be totally wrong altogether. I am not an editor; I’ve never run a lit magazine or a publication, nor am I interested in doing so.

And so the wait continued for months…at one point I noticed via Submishmash that F Magazine no longer had an online presence. In the time between my submitting the story and a few months later, F Magazine seemed to have disappeared from any venue online. Then, something strange happened: the status of the story went from “In Progress” to “Accepted.” This made me extremely happy; I had thought it would make a great fit at F Magazine, and sure enough it did. And so several days went by with no word from the editors. Then weeks. Checking the status: still “Accepted.” I decided to try to contact them, because if–for some reason–the status was wrong, I didn’t want to waste time; I wanted to re-submit the story to other publications. I wasn’t able to find anything about F Magazine anywhere online or otherwise. Every link led me to some GoDaddy Do You Want To Purchase This Domain-Type page.Every search turned out nothing; not even back print copies (which I knew existed, as F Magazine is both print and Web).

So I got my trusty researcher extraordinaire on the case. Within one day she snagged the Managing Editor’s name and email address. I wrote to the man asking about the purported acceptance of the story and the lack of communication. I waited a few days. Nothing. Then I sent another email, asking him to at least drop one line, one word; let me know if they’d run it or not, so I can move on and shop it somewhere else. At this point, it had been at least 4 weeks since F Magazine “accepted” it. Finally I got back a very nice, professional, long email from the gentleman explaining how the magazine was in the middle of a huge re-design/online presence change, and how the story had made it up through all sorts of editorial levels. There was an editorial conference apparently on whether to publish it, and, sadly, (despite the “Accepted” label, which-by the way-is still there in Submishmash) it was decided not to. But despite the decision, he was quite sure I’d be able to place it quickly somewhere else (I’ve gotten that before, and I usually just dismiss it as niceties).  He also included some editorial notes, which I always appreciate as a writer if they’re well constructed and explain why something may or may  not have worked for a particular magazine. So I was grateful for that.

I left the story alone for a bit, having gotten busy with other writing and other issues in my daily life. And then, this past Saturday morning, I came across the wonderful Yareah Magazine; a literature and arts publication with an international vibe and readership. I thought: this could be the perfect place for Chunks, and so at around 6 am I sent it along with a nice letter. My daughter was up a bit later, and our week-end lives commenced. I was away from computers for several hours, until after lunch when I quickly checked in. I had an email from editor Martin Cid which basically said: we loved it, it’s published. The email was time-stamped three hours after I had submitted the story. And so…the fastest acceptance I’ve ever received in my nearly 20 years of playing this crazy game.

I share this long-ish post because I’m always astounded at the fate of stories and novels, and at where they end up finding their homes…if they do at all. I’ve always believed each piece of art has a destiny; even if it’s the trash can. Quick aside here: from 1994-1999 I got heavily into painting; I did mostly expressionist pieces, as I’d never had training in my life, but they were huge canvases with interesting work, and I was told by a lot of people that they were good and that they’d sell. In 2000 when I left Washington DC, I went through a fit of depression and literally took a knife to all the pieces I’d done (over 30…not a lot, but still), sliced the canvases, and jammed them into a nearby apartment dumpster. I’ve regretted that move ever since. But…as I mentioned, each piece of art has a destiny. Mine were murdered; eviscerated by their creator. They did not scream. They were brave. I was weak. I did the same, nearly 6 years later, with the manuscript of my novel “Resident Alien.” I used it in the fireplace during the ice storm of ’05, as kindling…after our power was off for a whole week.

And so goes the backstory to the story that found its perfect place at Yareah Magazine, after being bruised and battered and accepted and denied at another esteemed publication. These things…I know it sounds insane…but these things I create…they mean the world to me. They go through as much abuse as we all do throughout our lives. It is why I adore doing what I think I do best: write.

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