Thursday, October 23, 2014

Best Summer Ever



Every time I change clothes I notice my tan line—which reminds me of this past summer. Already it is over—after waiting for it to arrive, it is now time to say good bye. Yet—
it was the best summer in a long time, for a good long time. It began with a bike ride. Trying to cycle around the south end of the lake, from Grand Rapids back to Chicago. But ended in snow and wind and a phone call from a hot chocolate shop. Come get me.

And on the way driving back into Chicago, after being rescued, I got a phone call letting me know that I’d been chosen for an artist residency at a dune shack at the tip of Cape Cod. Mid-May I was on my way to Provincetown. I had no idea of what to expect from a cold, unheated shack without electricity. What I got was sun. Lots of sunny days sitting out on a deck watching the ocean and birds flitting about, reading and writing and tanning. I came home refreshed with millions of words on paper. Some of them stories.

This summer I camped out, rode my bike to new places, grilled out at the lake, picnicked, did concerts in the park. It was as if my summer broke out of a shell like a bird or split the cocoon of winter like a butterfly. And got free.

At the very end of summer I went to Sweden where most of Scandinavia was having its best summer ever. There were days on end of bright sunshine and blue skies. I bicycled and backpacked and came glowing, healthy from being outdoors.

Now as the days are growing shorter and the street lamps turn on cloudy days at 4:30 in the afternoon, I catch a glimpse of my fading tan line—and remember. The best summer ever.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Art? What's it good for?

Imagine here the Edwin Starr song--War (What Is It Good For? with that booming Huh? Good God! thrown in.

In an article I read on-line for FREE from The Globe and Mail a Canadian newspaper, I learned that Iggy Pop is a poor struggling musician. Actually I shouldn't have been too surprised. A recent survey in the UK says that artists' salaries are collapsing. Seems no one wants to pay to read "content" or for photographs or for music. Not for that pesky TV programming or films that they torrent or download for free.

Elizabeth Renzetti in her article "When Iggy Pop can’t live off his art, what chance do the rest have" Answers her own question--with one word.

She ends her article with a quote from Iggy, himself:  “When it comes to art, money is an unimportant detail. It just happens to be a huge unimportant detail.”


 The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs is offering grants to artists of all disciplines. Some are fixed deadlines and some are rolling. Check out their website (DCASE) and see if you qualify to apply.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

NOW 99 Cents (through Friday)



Our writing should be about taking the ordinary and turning it on its head. The home movies of our childhood—we love them not because they are unique or exotic, but because of their familiarity. They are the stuff of every-day life.
― Jane Hertenstein, from Freeze Frame: How to Write Flash Memoir


NOW .99!!
This book is helpful for those of us who are new to flash fiction and flash memoir writing. It is a good reference book to read when we have questions. As a writing teacher, I will continue to use it with my students--Glenda Council Beall
I thought this book was quite helpful. Good exercises, to help understand what flash is; prompts to use in writing sessions; and fantastic information on where and how to submit flash pieces.--Linda Schmidt
This how-to book looks at memoir in small, bite-size pieces, helping the writer to isolate or freeze-frame a moment and then distill it onto paper.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Places to Submit Flash



Emerge Literary Journal Seeks Poetry/Flash Fiction For 2014


Emerge Literary Journal is an annual print journal featuring poetry and flash fiction dedicated to emerging writers and their words. Now in its 3rd year of publication, ELJ aims to publish writers who are currently emerging on the literary scene. We love, prefer free verse and flash fiction—words with passion, voice, and place. We look for succinct images and dialogue that linger, narrative that we can take with us to bed at night, ideas used in magnificent ways. Bring us your castles. Emerge Literary Journal is published under its parent press imprint, ELJ Publications. www.emergeliteraryjournal.com

The Drunken Odyssey Needs Personal Essays on Beloved Books

The Drunken Odyssey, an amazing writing podcast, needs personal essays for its “Book that Changed my Life” segments. Send pitches for essay ideas to thedrunkenodyssey@gmail.com.

Gambling the Aisle Flash Fiction Call For Submissions

Submission deadline: Rolling
Gambling the Aisle is currently accepting submissions for Monthly Flash Fiction. Submissions must be self-contained, independent works of fiction 300 hundred words or fewer. One piece of flash fiction is published on the first of every month, and one of the monthly pieces is included in each of our biannual publications. To view our magazine and monthly flash fiction, and to submit, please visit gamblingtheaisle.com and select "Submit to Flash Fiction," or visit us on Submittable at gamblingtheaisleflashfiction.submittable.com/submit. We look forward to reading your work!

Microfiction Monday Magazine Call For Submissions

Online, Submission Deadline: year-round
Microfiction Monday Magazine is seeking exceptional stories told in 100 words or less for publication every Monday. There are no restrictions on genre or content, just punch us in the chest with characters we can feel, images we can't get out of our heads, and stories that are complete despite their brevity. Artwork submissions are also welcome. For more information and how to submit visit microfictionmondaymagazine.com.

AND REMEMBER
NOW .99!!
This book is helpful for those of us who are new to flash fiction and flash memoir writing. It is a good reference book to read when we have questions. As a writing teacher, I will continue to use it with my students--Glenda Council Beall
I thought this book was quite helpful. Good exercises, to help understand what flash is; prompts to use in writing sessions; and fantastic information on where and how to submit flash pieces.--Linda Schmidt


Friday, October 10, 2014

What Makes us Working Artists--Hint: not a paycheck

If you say you are an artist, but you make little money from selling your art, can your work be considered a profession in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service?

In a ruling handed down late last week by the United States Tax Court and seen by many as an important victory for artists, the answer is yes. The case involved the New York painter and printmaker Susan Crile, whose politically charged work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum and several other major institutions. In 2010, the I.R.S. accused Ms. Crile of underpaying her taxes, basing the case on the contention that her work as an artist over several decades was, for tax-deduction purposes, not a profession but something she did as part of her job as a professor of studio art at Hunter College.

The heart of the case touches on a situation familiar to many thousands of artists — from visual artists to musicians and actors — who earn a living as teachers or studio assistants or stagehands while pursuing creative careers that they hope will flourish and someday be able to pay the bills.
***
Really? The IRS is going after poor artists? 

How about you--are you just a hobbyist? Read the rest here.

Meanwhile, I'm running a special starting Tuesday for Freeze Frame: How rto Write Flash Memoir. If you have friends who write or family interested in memoir, please, please, please Facebook them the link to my book. Again, the special begins Tuesday and it will go for 99 cents rather than $2.99--not that that is so bad either. --Since the IRS will be getting their share later.
http://tinyurl.com/lkm3mke


Monday, October 6, 2014

What Would Happen



Yesterday was a weird day. I work in an institutional kitchen and a horrible smell was coming out of the AC/Heating unit. Not good. I turned it off and called our maintenance man who took off a grate to tell me, The motors burned out.

Just great.

I saw an inscription on a panel inside the wall and it piqued my curiosity. This morning our handyman looked into the hole in the wall at the motor and was astonished. He’d written the name Joseph Garang and a phone number on the panel years and years ago. But that wasn’t what was so amazing—he told me, I just got a call two weeks ago from Joseph.

In 2000 and 2001 Ted had been involved in sponsoring some young men from Sudan, Lost Boys who came over from refugee camps. They were and are a close-knit group. Maybe because they lost most of their families during the civil wars in Sudan and now all they had was each other. Ted helped them out with food, clothes, and housing until they could get established and begin building a life here in America. They also introduced Ted to a fellow refugee named Joseph Garang who was still back in Nairobi. He needed some help.

9/11 put a stop to the Lost Boy flights and asylum became a lot more complicated after the World Trade Towers attack. Joseph wanted someone to sponsor his education.

As I’m hearing this story from Ted this morning, I couldn’t help but think, That sounds risky. Like the emails I get from Nigerian princes who just need for me to transfer money into their bank accounts. These are the kind of people who can suck you dry, mainly because they think we’re all rich. And, maybe we are compared to their abject poverty. Nevertheless, I know Ted and he doesn’t have a lot of money. He does ascapping on the side and recycling of printer toner cartridges. But he promised Joseph he would send $50 a month, not indefinitely but for a while. Ted helped him through high school and then with college. He graduated and got a job at a bank in Nairobi. Eventually he wrote Ted not to send any more money.

Then two weeks ago he phoned and told Ted he wanted to meet him. He intended to send him a plane ticket, take time off work, and arrange everything so that Ted could come to Kenya. I’m sure Ted never imagined how this story would end. And here we were by the guts of the burned out motor talking about how funny life is. Fourteen years ago the idea of sending so much money to a stranger upon the recommendation of several other refugees must have sounded crazyy. What would happen?

What would happen if we got personally involved? What might happen if we get ripped off, waste time, or get overwhelmed by someone else’s problem? There were a million ways this story could have ended.

While I was in Sweden a church in TranĂ¥s met to discuss the problem of Roma people begging in the streets. Suddenly Sweden is facing an influx of Roma and public panhandling. I wondered: What if this church did what Ted did—sponsored a family, took care of the kids education, made sure they saw doctors? Just one family. It would not make a huge difference, but would be an investment toward some future goal.

What could happen?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Losing



This year I’ve lost two friends
Not lost, but misplaced.
Not misplaced, just can’t find.
Gone yet with me always.

This summer I’ve lost two friends.
Not misplaced, but gone.
Perhaps forever.

This year I’ve lost four friends.
Two are gone, but here.
Two have disappeared, yet I
Look for them, everywhere.

It makes me wonder:
What is gone and what is misplaced?
I’ve lost keys, pens, and rings.
Or are they just misplaced?
I’ve misplaced relationships—
Or are they gone? Lost forever.

I still remember the ring I lost,
And I still look for that one key,
As for the pens, they are easily replaced.
But, you. You I will forever miss.