Well, the last of my short stories I still had out on submission finally got rejected. (From Mystery Tribune, which is a good publication that puts out a gorgeous physical magazine, and which I recommend despite this stunning lapse in editorial judgment.)
So nothing I’ve written in the last ten years is now part of the publishing industrial complex, and I’m honestly quite relieved. I had no idea what a toll the constant cycle of submission and rejection was taking on me until I stopped.
Anyway, this is a nice little story that’s free of bloodshed and gore. It’s really about a friendship. I wrote it in part because I missed my friend Liz who died in 2009. We aren’t the characters in this story, and this friendship isn’t our friendship, so I can’t really explain how writing this helped me with missing her. But it did.
The only content warnings this time out are for addiction. Both main characters are struggling with sobriety.
I’ve been seeing a lot of despair out there on the internet recently. I get it—the rise of fascism worldwide is both scary and depressing. But I want to give you some reasons to be hopeful. (Don’t worry! I’m sure my regular snark and sarcasm will be back soon!)
As a former theater kid, I have a lifelong love of the theater and a sense of ongoing sadness that most theater is inaccessible to most people. I mean, yeah, there are often cheap student tickets available (but, of course, 50% of people in the USA don’t attend 4-year colleges), and if you jump on something quickly, you can sometimes find a ticket for 30 or 40 bucks, but for most professional performances in the Boston area, anyway, you’re looking at between 75 and 150 bucks per ticket.
So I’m always interested in efforts to make theater more accessible. I recently saw The Interrobangers, by M. Sloth Levine at the Boston Public Library. Tickets were pay-what-you-want, and, as a result of this (as well as the subject matter, probably), the crowd skewed much younger than a typical theater performance.
Apart from a brief period, I’ve been broke, to a greater or lesser degree, for most of my life. (I’m making a distinction between broke and poor here, which I’ll explain below.) It’s embarrassing to be broke. To get your card declined at the store. To admit to people you know that you can’t really afford to do or buy something. To take loans and handouts from friends and family when you’re having a hard time.
All this stuff feels shameful. But it shouldn’t, for two reasons.
Now, for those who don’t know me, I’ve been an English/Writing teacher in some form or another for most of the last 30 years. Just gotta establish those bona fides because I know teachers won’t listen to anyone who’s not a teacher. (Not that this is necessarily a bad thing! I went to enough “professional development” meetings led by consultants who had never set foot in a classroom to be extremely skeptical of non-teacher takes on teaching.)
Okay, let’s start with a quiz. Which one of these is an error?
I still love paper books, but I also love ebooks. I love a trip to the library to browse and check out books, but also if I finish a book at 9 at night, it’s cool to be able to borrow the next one from my couch. And, of course, having an e-reader opens up a whole new world of reading. A lot of books (such as my 2002-2012 output) are pretty much only available to read as ebooks. And a lot of people (again, like me—pay what you want!) are putting out new work in electronic form because ebooks allow you to put your work out in the world with far less expense and trouble than traditional publishing. Yes, of course there’s a lot of crap out there, but that’s true of paper books as well.
But a lot of people tell me they don’t want to get locked into getting books from Bezos, especially since ebooks you buy from Amazon are essentially licensed rather than owned. (Remember when they sucked all the copies of 1984 out of people’s Kindles? A little on-the-nose, if you ask me, but it actually happened.)
Fortunately, you can get an ereader that’s not locked in to any particular bookseller, which essentially means buying an android tablet with an e-ink screen.