Occasionally memory goes back to 1966-67, when the Alicia Patterson Foundation sent me with the family to study the governance of two great rivers that traversed both Communist and non-Communist nations — the Danube and the Mekong. Although my reports dealt with government action, there was time to marvel at how people lived — and in Cambodia, one unique way they fished.
Wanderlust Journal liked the account; you can read it ==>there
I’ve tried writing for magazines that only consider 50-word or 100-word pieces, and have even had a few published, but it’s not a genre I’m fond of. Even 500 words usually seems too constrained, but occasionally I find a topic that doesn’t need more than that — and then Panoply is the one I try first. When I sent them a piece on taking my bird feeders down, they accepted it in a short three weeks, telling me (what a writer loves to hear) “The writing quality itself is the winner in this piece.”
You can read it in Panoply, ==>>here
Inlandia, A Literary Journey, invited narratives celebrating what they call the “Inland Empire” of Southern California.
I had such a narrative almost ready to go: Remembering when my college buddy Bill and I visited Death Valley on New Year’s Eve of 1951. As we clambered around an unusual formation of sand dunes, studying the patterns, the wind began to rise.
We were in for a gritty evening. I called it “A Lesson in Dunes.” It’s out now; read it here ==>>
I spent the summer of 1951 zigzagging across the United States in my Model A Ford, aiming to have visited every one of the (then) 48 states before fetching up to begin my junior year at Cornell. I worked my way, finding a few days’ work here and there — until I hit a strikebound South. It’s a story I’ve told friends for years. I finally decided to write it out and get it published. Sheepshead Review in Wisconsin liked it, and you can read it on page 65 of their Summer 2021 issue ==>>here
or maybe to avoid skimming through five dozen online pages read on this blog, ==>>here
In the spring of 2020, the magazine Halfway Down the Stairs invited pieces on the theme “upside down.” They had already published one of my stories, so I was ready to try writing something to their theme.
I looked out the window, where a house sparrow was trying to solve a bird feeder. Bingo.
In a near-record 24 days they politely declined it; they had in mind ways the pandemic had upset lives. Undaunted, I tweaked and renamed it, and began sending it to others. After a year of more rejections, Open Door Magazine wrote this week that they wanted to publish what was now “The Mighty Sparrow,” not only as the lead piece in the July online Issue 10, but also in their October print anthology.
“An American university fellow in 1970s Cambodia begins to welcome the special treatment he receives as government agents scrutinize his every move.” That’s how Lowestoft Chronicle introduces its Volume 43, which includes my memory piece, “Being Watched”. I was visiting the legendary ruins of Angkor War in Cambodia when the man assigned to keep me under surveillance apologized for being late, and asked me to tell him how I’d spent my day.
Lowestoft published another bit of Cambodian memories a few years ago, too. You can read the latest ==>>here at my blog, or at their website, ==>>here
I spent one summer of my college years making radiator hose at the B.F. Goodrich factory in Akron, Ohio. I came close to spending that summer unemployed, but I was blessed with a mother who stiffened my spine when I was nearly crushed by my own stupidity.
It’s a story of learning to speak up for myself, and — not just incidentally — learning union rules. For the second year in a row, the American Writers Review annual book includes my writing. I call this one Work Rules. You can read it ===>here
A small Montana literary magazine, which had published two of my short stories, put out a call for submissions to its next issue on the theme “the great outdoors.”
I was reminded of a outdoor adventure I shared with Brad more than 60 years ago — an elephant ride through a forest on India’s Deccan plateau, and a l00k at working elephants. They liked “When Elephants Harvested Teak,” and you can read in now on page 45 of the magazine, by going ==>>here
(or read it here at my blog, listed under n0n-fiction)
Montana Mouthful, a literary magazine basedin Mom’s home town of Helena, said it wanted stories for its next issue that somehow related to schooling. My mind immediately jumped to some of my Dad’s stories about the tough schooling he received 70 miles or so west in the Butte area. I sat down to write it, and it came easily.
Was it non-fiction? I’m pretty sure the broken-ruler event was real. I’m less confident in the absolute authenticity of the rest of the story. I’m not even absolutely sure, at this distance, that Dad told it first person.
Never mind; it’s a fun story. The Montana editors thought so, too. You can read it (flip through to page 32) ==>here
Writers are urged to draw on their own experience, to incorporate ideas and events they know well.
Easy to say, but I still find it difficult to work Alzheimer’s into my writing. Nonetheless, I’ve been going through notes I made through those hard years, and managed to put together a piece remembering my dear Brad’s gradually diminishing ability to go anywhere by herself.
The editors of American Writer’s Review 2019 liked it. It’s out now, a thick anthology, and is available at booksellers including Amazon –$15(!!) in paperback, $2.99 as a Kindle book — or you can read it ==>here