Notes on my Short Fiction (and an outlier)
Recently the editor of Outposts of Beyond accepted “The First Battle of the Puffer War” which I submitted as poetry, but noted he will probably reformat it because “it reads better as a story.”
This may sound strange, but it’s often difficult to identify a short story. Particularly in an environment of fusionist forms such as prose poems and fictional essays. In trying to separate my short fiction from my poetry I have sometimes looked at intent, and sometimes at other scholarship.
In the introduction to his influential The New Book of Forms, Lewis Turco says that fiction is for telling a narrative story in prose. Drama is for telling a story for performance. “[A]n essay is a written discussion or exposition of a particular subject.” But he argues that poetry can do any of these things and therefore must focus on the mode of writing: the language itself. Poetry is about powerful language. That is not a clear dividing line.
Mostly I start with a much more practical dividing line: when I submitted the work for publication, did I call it a short story, or did I call it a poem? And what did the person buying it pay for? But that doesn’t always work either. I submitted the flash (super short) fiction “X’s & O’s” as fiction, and the editor of Vision purchased it as poetry. I suspect this is because he wanted to pay me more. The story is 45 words long so at a couple of cents per word as fiction it paid minimally while as poetry it qualified for a higher minimum payment. And so it was listed as poetry in the Table of Contents. I choose to list it with my fiction although ISFDb chooses to list it as poetry in their bibliography of my speculative work. The editor of Midnight Zoo referred to the humor piece “All About Tachyons” as a ‘non-fact article’, but it was listed in the contents in the vicinity of the poetry. This time ISFDb lists it as short fiction.
At 422 words, “The Puffer War” is substantial enough to be a short story. I will see how it looks reformatted, and how it is listed in the Table of Contents before I decide how to file the work. “Meeting” has been published once as poetry and once as fiction, but it has always been a flash fiction to me, and is listed as such below. Recently ISFDb chose to label my new book Flying Solo: The Lana Invasion as fiction because it is subtitled a novella in verse. At the same time it lists the thirty individual poems as poems. It really does get complicated. I have not listed Flying Solo with my fiction, but I don’t promise not to change my mind someday. I have snuck in the collaborative one-act play that’s been published because it is an outlier that doesn’t really fit anywhere else.
Looking at this list it is clear I really liked the magazine Vision. I appeared in each of the last twelve issues with a total of nine short stories, twenty poems, and several letters. The editors repeatedly expressed their appreciation of my work, and gave me a shout-out in the final issue. When they stopped publishing, it contributed to my losing steam as fiction writer. Given my recent acceptances, perhaps that steam will build again. Or not. Either way, I had fun.
SHORT FICTION/Drama PUBLICATIONS:
2017 October – “A Dwarf for Each” in Stinkwaves 5:1
2017 June 6 – “A Long Cold Wait” in Speculative 66 #9 (Flash)
2005 Fall – “King of the Forest” in Pitkin in Progress, (One Act Play) co-written with Alan Katerinsky
2004 May – “le dame Canadienne” in Images
2001 February – “Standard Repair” in Ad Astra 2001 20th Anniversary Book (much expanded)
1995 October – “Meetings” in Olives, (flash)
reprinted in Images May 2000
1994 Winter – “Grounded” in Expanse #2
1994 August – “The Value of Words” in Gaslight 3:1
1993 April – “One Side” in Vision #17
1993 January – “Death Notice” in Vision #16 (flash)
1993 January – “Standard Repair” in Vision #16
1992 Winter – “The Cold Times” in Figment #12
1992 September – “C.O.s” in Sozoryoku #7
1992 Summer – “Newly Dreamed” in Vandeloecht’s Fiction Magazine #6
1992 Spring – “Yellow Flowers” in Figment #9
1992 March - “The King of Cats” in Sozoryoku #5
1992 January – “Domesetter” in Vision #12
1991-2 Winter – “Tomorrow’s Child” in Figment #8
1991 September – “From Within” in Vision #11
1991 September – “Just Begun” in Vision #11
1991 September – “Pacing Near the Speed of Light” in Sozoryoku #3
1991 July/August – “All About Tachyons:” in Midnight Zoo 1:4
Reprinted in EerieCon One Program Book April 16, 1999
1991 June – “The Path of Dreams” in Sozoryoku #2
1991 March - “Those Who Forget” in Sozoryoku #1
1991 March – “Extended Family” in Vision #8
1991 January - “X’s & O’s” in Vision #7 (flash)
1991 January – “A Little Beast” in Vision #7
1977 May – “The Grinning Pearls” in The Albatross
Cover Gallery: The Slick and the Coarse...