Creative Nonfiction, #12 Fall 2018

Christopher Cascio, Kid
Heidi Davidson-Drexel, Your Boss
Aliza Dube, Loved to Death
Anne Noonan, Stink Tree
Lisa Rizzo, Snowsuit Prisoners

Nikki Sambitsky, Penny Drop

Featured Artist

Peter Tavernise

NEWS:

We will open submissions again from December 14, 2018 – January 15, 2019.

  • Our guest blogger in Issue 12 is essayist Heidi Davidson-Drexel. Read thoughts on how she developed the narrator voice in “Your Boss.”
  • Suzanne Farrell Smith’s essay, “The Helping Man,” is nominated by Pembroke Magazine for Pushcart Prize. Congratulations and good luck! This fall Suzanne also had an essay published in Brevity, “If You Find a Mouse in a Glue Trap.” Finally, her essay “Work and Love” is published in Issue 8 of Adanna. Way to go, SFS!
  • Read our editor Mary Heather Noble’s blog post, On Writer’s Block: Notes from the Kitchen Island. “I’ve tried all kinds of ways to avoid doing this work. I tried moving far away, and when that didn’t help, I wrote and published a few scenes from that childhood path and then suffered the consequences. I’ve tried writing about other things. I’ve tried literally running away.” This is a gorgeous and vulnerable self-examination of, among other things, the mountain climbing we do as children and as adults.
  • Our former guest editor for Peter Tavernise is this issue’s Featured Artist — check out his gorgeous digitally created work!
  • Do you have a question for us? Write to us at Ask the Editor. In December, we will tackle the question, “What qualifies as childhood for your mission?” Read Heidi’s blog post about her authorial choices in her essay, Your Boss.
  • We ask you to follow our blog! We don’t post there often, but when we do it’s focused information you can use about writing and writers, as well as updates about our journal.
  • We are on Twitter and Facebook: Follow/Like us to stay in the loop on all things Longridge: @LongridgeReview and Longridge Editors LLC.

Summer is our quiet time, but we are still planning!

Please share this information with your writing friends and community.

***

Our emphasis is on literature that explores the mysteries of childhood experience, the wonder of adult reflection, and how the two connect over a lifespan. Take a look through some of our online essays to get a feel for what we publish.

We are committed to publishing narratives steeped in reverence for childhood experience and perceptions, but we seek essays that stretch beyond the clichés of childhood as simple, angelic, or easy. We want to feature writing that layers the events of the writer’s early years with a sense of wisdom or learning accumulated in adult life.

We welcome diverse creative nonfiction pieces that demonstrate perceptive and revealing moments about the human condition.

We will not consider trite, light narratives; genre nonfiction; critical analyses; inspirational or motivational advice; erotica or pornography; or any writing that purposefully exploits or demeans.

We will consider one creative nonfiction piece (up to 3,500 words) per submission period. Please do not submit more than once during the reading period. Individual authors will not be published more than once per calendar year. The deadline is midnight EST on the close date. Each submission requires a $3.00 fee, payable electronically via Submittable.

Visit our full submission guidelines here: https://longridgereview.com/submit/

Ask the Editor is a resource for our readers and writers in which we review and respond to popular questions about our journal, essay writing, submissions, and literary potpourri type stuff. Have a question you’d like to see answered here? Send it to edg dot longridgeeditors dot com. Chosen questions will be kept anonymous.

Here is a question that is often on most writers’ minds:  Is there a common reason you reject submissions?

Q:  Like most journals, you probably reject more submissions than you publish. What’s the biggest mistake people make?

A:  It’s true, we take 10% or less of the submissions we receive. I deliberately use the term “decline” vs. “reject” because it’s more accurate. There are two basic categories for our declines. The first is mathematical and straightforward. The second is nuanced and often complicated.

 

Category One is made up of essays that do not conform to what we request. They are over the word count, off-mission, or fiction. Those declines are especially frustrating when the writing is good — and Longridge Review attracts a lot of talented writers.

These particular mistakes happen, I believe, because people often have some writing they’d like to have find a forever home, and these pieces are sent out to various places rather than crafted specifically for us. There is not one thing wrong with that in general, I am sure it’s quite common, but it can lead to wasted time all around because the work just doesn’t fit what we do.

Occasionally, it’s obvious that the writer is penning a longer work about his or her life, something more in the memoir form. It would be great if those of us who write creative nonfiction could just cut and paste the right word counts out of our manuscripts and Ta! Da! have a great essay. But it really doesn’t work like that. Sometimes you can craft something forward, such as a collection of essays into a book, but even that is a creation that is more than the sum of its parts, and difficult to do.

Category Two is harder to explain than the first set of mistakes. It can be an essay of the right word count, optimum punctuation and grammar, even some breathtaking sentences, and still not work. These narratives can be broken down into three general types:

  1. The Recounting Narrative — It’s surprisingly common for us to receive pieces of writing that read as if the writer is scrolling through his or her brain and writing down whatever is recalled. Declining a piece like this is not a judgement on the value of the memory. It is usually because the narrative has no discernible structure. Why are you telling us this? is what goes through the reader’s mind. What does this have to do with me?  Where is this going?
  2. The Not-Taking-It to-The-Pain Narrative — If you know The Princess Bride book or film, you know “to the pain” is a classic phrase the hero uses to intimidate the villain, promising not to kill him but to leave him alive and eternally suffering. Cheerful, right? (It’s actually a very funny scene in total.) You do not have to suffer eternally to write a good essay, but you know what? You do have to suffer a little bit. Often that pain is something the writing itself can exorcise from a troubled past. But a writer does have to get to it, to touch it, to own it. We can tell when an essay is dancing around what really hurts, trust me. Your readers can, too. Often we writers are the last to know. Which leads me to . . .
  3. The It’s-All-About-Me Narrative — Writer Brian Doyle said that bad personal essays are about the writer. Good personal essays are about the rest of us. What does that mean? you ask. How can I write about you if I don’t even know you? You can’t write about me, but you can connect your life with mine, with that of any other human being. That’s why this is art. That’s why this is important. That’s why your writing matters to the world. Not because you necessarily are instructing others, but because you are giving them the gift of the “a-ha” moment. When a reader can see him- or herself in your essay, even if it’s the most foreign thing literally speaking, that’s the win. That’s why we write. That’s why we read. An unexpected example for me in Issue 11 was Cars: An Unrequited Love Story. I’ve never been a teenage boy. Never had feelings for an automobile. I laughed a lot during this essay, and have read it several times. I realized it’s not about cars. It’s not about Scott Peterson; I mean, it is, but it’s about more than that. It’s about young ideals, about hopes and dreams, about sacrificing and working to bring something into your life that you really want, and coping with the aftermath when it doesn’t quite roll out like you hoped it would. It’s about growing up, and we’ve all done that.
Keep those cards and letters — and essays — coming!

“Get to the point,” he answered immediately, when I asked what advice he can offer newer writers. “I usually have a speech I make to my students. “Cut to the chase. Tell a tale. All things are stories; romance, work, education, religion and stories are how we most commonly and easily eat information, eat the world; so the storyteller has enormous power and pop if the story is naked. The best tales are direct and unadorned.”– Brian Doyle

 

Greetings, Writers:

We have developed a gift for launching our calls for submission during the CRWROPPS hiatus (no new announcements until after March 12).

Our submission period will be extended to May 1.

CRWROPPS is the Creative Writers Opportunities List moderated by Allison Joseph. It is a public Yahoo group with over 14,000 members that posts calls for submissions and contest information for writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. It is an important resource for writers as well as for publishers.

If you are not already connected to this group to receive calls for submission, check out the details here for how to join: CRWROPPS-B.

We encourage established, unpublished, or emerging writers to submit their best work to Longridge Review.

Visit our full submission guidelines here: https://longridgereview.com/submit/

We look forward to reading your work!

Our emphasis is on literature that explores the mysteries of childhood experience, the wonder of adult reflection, and how the two connect over a lifespan. Take look through some of our online essays to get a feel for what we publish.

We are committed to publishing narratives steeped in reverence for childhood experience and perceptions, but we seek essays that stretch beyond the clichés of childhood as simple, angelic, or easy. We want to feature writing that layers the events of the writer’s early years with a sense of wisdom or learning accumulated in adult life.

We welcome diverse creative nonfiction pieces that demonstrate perceptive and revealing moments about the human condition.

We will not consider trite, light narratives; genre nonfiction; critical analyses; inspirational or motivational advice; erotica or pornography; or any writing that purposefully exploits or demeans.

We encourage established, unpublished, or emerging writers to submit their best work to Longridge Review.

We will consider one creative nonfiction piece (up to 3,500 words) per submission period. Please do not submit more than once during the reading period. Individual authors will not be published more than once per calendar year. The deadline is midnight EST April 1, and there is a $3.00 fee.

Visit our full submission guidelines here: https://longridgereview.com/submit/

Change-Quotes

I wrote an important response to a reader/writer this week.

The question was:

Dear LR editors,

I really enjoyed Anne Muccino’s “Sepia” in the fall issue. The writing conjured up the experience of entering the repair shop, with its particular smell of blown electric fuses, with such vividness, and I loved the way the speaker segues from sensory experience into her apprenticeship in language and the painful unknowables she is starting to intuit in the adult world . 

I saw your call for submissions on CRWR-OPPS last month, and also that your next submissions period opens March 1. I have some work that I think might be a good match content-wise for Longridge Review but am not sure about length: your website specifies a maximum of 3,500 words, but the last CRWR-OPPS call said 6,500. Was that an error? It seems like your usual pieces are shorter.

 

This is what I said:

Thank you. I love hearing that one of our essays has had a positive impact on a reader. I agree, it was a special essay.

I’ll just be straight with you, we are in a transitional moment as a literary journal. We are about to publish (online) our 10th issue. We’ve worked with over 80 writers/visual artists. We’ve learned, I think, a thing or two that will make our next 10 issues even better.

One thing I think I’ve learned is that 6,500 words is just too many for online, not necessarily inherently but in terms of how it tends to tempt people to send us excerpts from longer works vs. actual stand-alone essays. This next call, we are shortening the length to 3,500 words.

 

I am also going to implement a $3 submission fee. I’ve been very proud of not accepting advertising and not charging submission fees, but the truth is we can’t go on without some form of income. I hope this will not prevent you from submitting, but I understand if it does. I think many of us doing this work, on both ends, are trying to figure it out.

I will send a new call to CRWROPPS with the updated submission information.

We hope to read your work!

What I didn’t say in that response is more complex, and I think nicely described by In Praise of Submission Fees by Nicole Walker. Nichole’s op-ed appeared in Brevity magazine’s blog on February 2, 2018, and takes on the question of how online submission fees really pencil out, for everyone.

I won’t retell it all here,  but suffice it to say, Nichole makes a compelling case for the simplicity and relative cost-effectiveness of most online submission fees. She put words to much of my own experience on both sides of the submission experience.

The other thing I didn’t go into is that our best essays are 3,500 words or less. They just have fit that profile, and there may be various reasons for this. Whatever the reasons, it’s time to honor the facts. The longer word count, at least in our experience, tends to drag writers away from the true essay form. There is a lot of wandering and frankly some avoidance that is less likely to appear when the word count is fairly tight. This change is after publishing 10 issues with longer word counts, so we know of what we speak.

We want to keep doing what we are doing. We hear from you every issue how publishing your essays is changing your world for the better. Readers are moved by shared experiences, and writers are freed by telling their stories. It’s not self-help. We explicitly don’t do that. But it’s a common outcome of our mission that people are engaged and connected in the hard work of growing up and finding peace through reading and writing.

Our mission is to present the finest essays on the mysteries of childhood experience, the wonder of adult reflection, and how the two connect over a lifespan.

We are still all in on this work, and we hope we will have your support. Change is not uniformly celebrated, so don’t hesitate to tell us what you think. We want to know.

And….did I mention?

Our submissions period opens March 1, 2018. Send us your best work!

Elizabeth Gaucher
Editor and Founder
Longridge Review

Ask the Editor is a new resource for our readers and writers in which we review and respond to popular questions about our journal, essay writing, submissions, and literary potpourri type stuff. Have a question you’d like to see answered here? Send it to edg dot longridgeeditors dot com. Chosen questions will be kept anonymous.

First up is a great question that ponders, just what is creative nonfiction writing, anyway?

Q:  I’m new to writing and submitting my work. The story I sent you is non-fiction in that it actually happened to me. I was the little girl. But I consider it fiction in that it is radically embellished.  Am I confused about genres?

A:  If you are confused about genres, you are not alone. Creative Nonfiction is a relatively new genre, at least in terms of a single definition. Within the literary community there is debate about its nature, about its highest and best form. Some people even refuse to acknowledge creative nonfiction as a legitimate genre, and hold that the subject matter of writing is either true (nonfiction) or not true (fiction).

Increasingly, though, there is awareness that our existence and experience are non-binary things. I won’t attempt to go into all of that here, but I subscribe to a couple of ideas about this complexity that guide Longridge Review.

1) We can never recall exactly what happened but still need to write about what we do remember to find the truth in that experience.

There is some science that says every time we recall something, we change it.

(Let yourself sit with that for a minute or two.)

2) The key is to not deliberately and strategically write something that is, as you say, “radically embellished,” and then try to pass it off as anything other than fiction.

It sounds like what you have is a piece of fiction that is inspired by personal experience. Some might say that personal experience is THE launch pad for fiction, at least to some degree. Even if the story is about a murder, say, or an alien invasion (things hopefully of limited personal experience), the writer has to have some experience with the core elements of the story in order to make it work. Maybe she worked at a newspaper and covered the crime beat. Maybe he loved the planetarium as a child and has a keen awareness of planets and systems in space.

I hope this is helpful. While creative nonfiction can cover forms like poetry, Longridge Review focuses on the essay form.

For more on the genre, we recommend this by Lee Gutkind: What is Creative Nonfiction?

The word “creative” has been criticized in this context because some people have maintained that being creative means that you pretend or exaggerate or make up facts and embellish details. This is completely incorrect. It is possible to be honest and straightforward and brilliant and creative at the same time.

“Creative” doesn’t mean inventing what didn’t happen, reporting and describing what wasn’t there. It doesn’t mean that the writer has a license to lie. The cardinal rule is clear—and cannot be violated. This is the pledge the writer makes to the reader—the maxim we live by, the anchor of creative nonfiction: “You can’t make this stuff up!”

We regret that our most recent call for submissions was delayed on the CRWROPPS email blast. The call was caught in the hard-earned and well-deserved holiday break CRWROPPS took at the end of 2017.

So yes, the call just landed in your in-box, and yes, the call closed on January 15.

In addition, it’s come to our attention that writers not in the Eastern Standard Time (EST) zone wonder if our calls close on midnight EST or midnight where they are. The answer is the calls close at midnight EST. We will make that more clear on our website. It’s a great point and one that needs to be clarified.

Our next call for submissions will run March 1-April 1, 2018.

We will re-post the opening here on March 1; we also post news and updates like this on Facebook and Twitter.

We hope to hear from you!

https://www.facebook.com/longridge.editors/

 

 

 

The holidays are upon us, and we are thankful for all of the readers, writers, and artists who make Longridge Review possible!

We hope you will “follow” our blog posts — which are few and far between — to keep in touch with some innovations for this site in 2018. We would love to have your creativity be part of growing our mission via essays and art. You can also keep an eye on us via social media (see below).

  • Issue #9 is LIVE today!
  • Submissions for our Winter 2017-18 issue will open December 15, 2017
  • We are pleased that Molly Young Maass, District of Columbia, will join our board of readers and contributing editors for our next issue. Welcome, Molly!
  • In our current issue, creative advisor Suzanne Farrell Smith interviews her sister, Deb Farrell. We are truly honored to have Deb as our featured artist this issue. Don’t miss the intimate exchange between sisters that offers an unusually candid insight into Deb’s work.
  • We are on Twitter and Facebook! Follow us to stay in the loop on all things Longridge: @LongridgeReview and Longridge Editors LLC.

NOTE: Our mission results in our publishing uniquely sensitive narratives. Childhood experiences are formative, and tend to land in emotionally — and sometimes psychologically — difficult territory. While the writing is about childhood, these essays are not for children. Some essays contain adult language, explorations of sexuality, and instances of verbal or physical abuse. They also contain moments of light and love and humor. Thank you for reading and sharing responsibly. — EDG

In this issue:

Victims or Others?
Gina Ferrara (New Orleans) remembers a colorful crew of men who play cards at her grandfather’s bar and clubhouse in the French Quarter. “Chicago Mike” always seems to have an assortment of random gifts on him. One day, Gina and her sister are the recipients of some of those gifts, and she finds herself asking herself questions about what it means to be involved in something you’re not even sure you understand.

How to Be on Time
Andy Harper (Illinois) weaves a narrative that goes to an unexpected place. When he finds his young adult self beset by unexpected anxiety, he is determined to follow the bread crumbs to its origin. The conclusion is shocking. This essay broke a couple of hearts at our editorial table, and is an excellent example of why we publish Longridge Review.

Sepia
Anne Muccino (Kansas City) reflects on the first time she repeated a term spoken inside her family and realized it wasn’t something said aloud to others, most importantly not to the people being labeled with that word. This is a poignant snapshot of a child’s dawning awareness that not everything said casually or even said warmly has a casual or warm effect on others.

Shooting Stars
Jonathan Sonnenberg (New York City) deftly tells us something about himself by writing about an influential teacher.  Mr. Bell likes to ask his students prickly questions. Have they ever been drunk? Tried pot? Cocaine? The class is pretty used to his provocations, until one afternoon a question sucks the air out of room. Mr. Bell is after more than discomfort. He has something he needs them to know.

A Bowl Full of Jelly
Victoria Waddle (Claremont) is devastated by her grandmother’s death, but learns how to conjure her presence in dreams. These visits help, some, but become increasingly dissatisfying as her grandmother never comes fully back to who she was in life. Eventually, the dream woman sends a message that makes it plain her visits are over. But will she ever truly not be there, somewhere?

Sentence Enhancers
Teige Weidner (Oregon) has a story about his childhood that will ring familiar to too many readers. He is bullied, a lot, and the abuse is taking a toll. No one seems to appreciate how bad things are for young Teige, but they are about to find out. After all, we all only have so much fuse, and his is about to burn down.

p.s. Want to write for us? See submission guidelines here: Longridge Review SUBMIT

  • Issue #6 is LIVE today!
  • Submissions for the Spring 2017 issue will be accepted from 02/01/01 to 04/01/17.
  • Featured artist Lorette C. Luzajic is offering Longridge Review readers a generous discount on her work. Visit our page dedicated to her for the details!
  • Creative Advisor  Suzanne Farrell Smith’s essay, “Another Version of Us,” will be included in Selected Memories, an anthology of true stories and the first-ever book title from Hippocampus Magazine and Books. Suzanne will read her essay at Hippocampus’s AWP event in February. You can pre-order Selected Memories here.
  • Contributing Editor Mary Heather Noble’s essay “Eulogy for an Owl” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the editors of Creative Nonfiction.
  • Editor Elizabeth Gaucher’s flash creative nonfiction, “Underneath,” was chosen by editors Valley Haggard and Sarah Allen Short for Life in 10 Minutes’ first print anthology.
  • Gaucher’s essay, “Allons, Enfants: A Young Appalachian in Paris,” was nominated by the editors of Still: The Journal for a Pushcart Prize.
  • Our editors are pleased to announce our first-ever Pushcart Prize nomination, Mary Gustafson’s “Time Stops.”
  • Please consider a dontation, large or small, to support Longridge ReviewPayPal.Me/LongridgeEditorsLLC. We do not charge a submission fee or accept commercial advertising. Our mission is supported entirely by volunteers.
  • We are on Twitter! Follow us to stay in the loop on all things Longridge: @LongridgeReview