A few years back my friend invited me to put a story in this new project of his, an email attachment featuring music, lit, and art. He was in a really good band, and it was a pretty cool experience to receive the literature via email and read it as your own personal issue while listening to the songs. The second one I think featured an excerpt of Lin’s Richard Yates. This was 2008, I think? Anyway, it was pretty cool, and an interesting format, and if anyone wants a copy of it I might still have it archived somewhere.
Event Magazine. A Canadian poet recommended I submit, and then I did and got accepted, but not before the editor engaged in an email exchange with me in which we talked about the rhetorical situation of one of my poems. It was awesome. My poem sat next to a poem by someone way famous. And I got paid! Now I am in the middle of a year long rejection streak and no one will look at my stuff, but Event Magazine burns brightly in my little ole heart.
Glass Coffin Girls, published in the UK by PS Publishing. It was basically free reign, I could do whatever I wanted, and so I just let go, and did exactly what I wanted to do. To me this is the project that feels most like me. And being able to republish all of the stories in anthologies over the last few years has been awesome as well.
My first publication was in the Mississippi Review Online, and I received an acceptance email from Frederick Barthelme. Donald Barthelme was one of my biggest lit heroes at the time, and I loved F. Barthelme’s work in the Red Krayola. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite that excited again about placing something.
I think the one I’m most proud of is Diagram, which was my second ever (and the one before had been a while before that and gone kind of unnoticed, so it felt a bit like my first) because Diagram had published, and continues to publish, so many people I respect and it felt pretty fucking cool to become one of those people. It was also the first time I published something and had strangers sending me emails and facebook messages and stuff about, which is a real ego boost.
Conjunctions, because it’s the only place I’ve been published people have heard of, plus people like me don’t get published in places like that, not with stories about breath control fetishists told in stilted over-formal diction and college textbook questions (really). Also I got money.
Hayden’s Ferry Review. When I first started submitting (way before I should have) I’d chosen it, somewhat arbitrarily, as my #1 dream journal to be published in. They published some of my favorite writers–Stacey Richter, Adam Johnson–and the story they accepted had been rejected at least 40 times before, by journals that I had less interest in and that were of much less prestige.
The AWP before, I’d constantly hung around the HFR table and acted like an obnoxious (not sober) goofball. After the story was accepted, I e-mailed the editor Beth Staples and had to be like, “I was the hilarious weird guy who kept messing with your Scrabble game please still publish my story.”
A friend was complaining once about how he never got work accepted anywhere. I asked him where he’d been published. He said, “Oh, just NOON, plus I won DIAGRAM’s short fiction context.” I told him to shut the fuck up.
Hobart 12. I love Hobart and find every issue front to back readable and also my story got picked for Best American Short Stories 2012 and that was the most unexpected thing that’s ever happened to me as a writer.
The Southern Review. I’d read the magazine when I first started writing. It was my first personal rejection from the then editor Bret Lott. Then I had nice correspondence with the next editor Jeanne Leiby for, like, four years about poems I’d submitted. At that point, a little frustrated with knowing what they’d want (I’d been sending what I thought were my best, stateliest poems each time), I sent them an X-Files/Super Mario bros mashup thinking “whatever.” Then, they accepted it.
You can read that poem now at christopherlirette.com/dana-scully-makes-it-to-the-fortress-level/
Is all right. As I like to say, we learn to write by imitating what we like. I used to imitate Donald Barthelme to the point of embarrassment. Frederick Barthelme was very kind to accept it; it really made my week back in September 1998.
For the first day of a weeklong summer workshop I took when I was 20, the instructor had us all bring in like four poems each, not to workshop them, but rather so we could orient ourselves to each other’s work. After the first class, the poetry editor of Whiskey Island, who was also in the class, came up to me holding my poems and said “Which of these isn’t published?” And I said, “Uh, all of them?” And she pulled one out of the stack and brandished it at me and said, “I want this one.” It was my first publication. The following December, in the middle of a particularly harrowing finals week, I got an email saying they’d nominated the poem for a Pushcart. Two months after that, it got run by Verse Daily, prompting a glowing email from Robert Wrigley, of all people, asking me to apply to the U of Idaho if I ever pursued an MFA. It was the coolest case of beginner’s luck ever.
Getting accepted by Mud Luscious was a really big deal for me. I was fully expecting to get rejected and the piece they took is something that I think is one of the best/most personal things I’ve ever written. Great magazine + something I’m really proud of = exciting publication experience. It was recently, so it’s actually not up yet.