Among the many things on my mind this week: the relentless rainstorms; my sadly bedraggled garden; the unlucky visitors to our city who are sloshing through deep puddles on the Stampede grounds with their Big Pickle Dogs, Mac and Cheese Burgers, Poutine Stuffed Corn Dogs and other innovative food offerings; and short stories.
Although I’ve held tight against every twitch of my brain that wants to lead me into a story, I have been thinking how much I love the form. When I began writing, the idea of writing a novel was both terrifying and laughable. What story did I have that would demand 350 pages in the telling?
I already knew the gargantuan task involved in the writing, and also in the search for a publisher. But in each short story class I took, we were urged to finish the work and “get it out there,” the “there” being to literary magazines. In 1997 we had far more possibilities in the form of magazines, many of which ceased publishing years ago.
Those submissions, the comments offered even on rejections, the lucky strikes that got our work between covers sustained many of us as we carried on and grew stronger in the craft.
By coincidence, the Stampede, a beguiling old lit mag called “Green’s” published in Regina, and a story written from the perceptive of my own snooty indifference to the Calgary Stampede, came together. The story, “A Short Ride on Lightning” was published in the Summer 1998 issue of “Green’s.” The communication with Mr Green over some editorial suggestions – most of them good – was probably the lengthiest editing process I experienced with any of the other lit mags I managed to finagle my way into in the years that followed. My favourite comment/complaint: “Do we need a passion (yup, Mr. Green corresponded from his manual typewriter which did not have the option of italics) reference to their relationship? (does she live with him?)?
My reply: “In response to your question about the “passion” reference, I think it is necessary that there be a strong attraction between these two. If they were only casual friends, why would he care if she rides off with a cowboy?” He bought it.
To Mr. Green and the other publishers who have since folded, thank you for the opportunities and the honour you bestowed on us. To Anne Burke, whose magazine, “The Prairie Journal,” is still going strong since back in the days when I first began writing — a special recognition and thank you! And to all my writing cohorts — send those stories out!