Tag Archives: literary journal

The Tunnels

Brick wall triptych 1.jpg

The English department at my Alma mater, Northern Arizona University, has released a cool new student literary journal called The Tunnels, and I’m pleased to announce that I have two pieces published in its inaugural issue: a poem, “List of Lists,” and a creative nonfiction essay, “Between Brick Walls.” The first was written after a First Friday Art Walk; the second is about photography, forest fires, and climate change. Both pieces are part of my never-ending love affair with Flagstaff, AZ. However, I mostly want to advertise the journal as a whole.

Two wonderful and talented professors, one in creative writing and one in literature, are the journal’s editors and creators, but it is heavily student-run. Last year, I was a reader for its earlier iteration, JURCE. The Tunnels is an academic and literary journal, and features literary criticism as well. One of my friends has a paper on one of Isaac Asimov’s stories; another friend of mine has a paper on Luigi’s Mansion. The whole journal is an excellent collection of literature and criticism, and a lovely reminder of how many people from Flagstaff and NAU have inspired and continue to inspire me. It also makes me excited for future editions.

So feel free to take a gander at this hip new journal, and I hope you enjoy it!


P.S. I listened to “Paper Moon” by Chic Gamine while writing the poem and “She Got Lost in the Observatory” by Motionless while writing the essay, to get in the right writing mood.

Comfort in a Cookie

You Are Not What You EatFor an exercise in my fiction workshop, each student was given a fortune cookie and asked to interact with it. We interacted: we broke them, read the fortunes, nibbled on the cookie chunks or chomped them down in one bite. The exercise was about magical thinking in our own lives and our readers’ lives, and how stories so often rely upon the magic of symbols, the mystical confluence of coincidences. Despite of our capacity for logic, we often attach special meaning to mundane things.

I wanted to resist that superstitious behavior. I am, after all, a pretentious English Major, cold and unfeeling, so I instinctively dismiss all fortunes found in cookies, or any other bourgeois baked goods.

In this class, we have also discussed publication (and lack thereof) at great length. “Writing is an industry of rejection,” the instructor has pointed out. While we try to have thick skin, rejections pile up and start to hurt. So when I read my fortune, I will admit that for a moment I gave into magical thinking:

You will soon be receiving some good written news.

It could have been written just for me. Why not? Why can’t I find a little comfort in a cookie? Most writers know to take rejections in stride, but it’s difficult to take for so long, so why not admit that I wanted some factory-produced strip of paper to let me know that if I wait just a moment longer, I’ll get a big publication in a well-known journal?

After class yesterday, I checked my email, and was surprised to find a response from a literary journal I’d sent a collection of environmental poems to back in December. My heart skipped a beat as I read the email quickly, and to my utter amazement, the journal rejected the poems.

Maybe you thought for a moment that I got a big publication. I’d hoped so, too. Maybe I’ve just demonstrated how easily I can connect an arbitrary object (a fortune cookie) with the right combination of values and aspirations lurking in you, the reader. Or maybe not. Perhaps I’ve manipulated your own experience with rejection, especially if you’re a writer. This is an industry of rejection, and good fortune doesn’t correlate with publication. I’ll keep submitting, and I’ll keep writing and revising, and every now and then I’ll allow myself the comfort of dreaming that maybe, just maybe, I’ll get some good written news.

Fellow writers, how do you cope with rejections? Or have you fortuitously gotten any publications lately? Let me know in the comments, and spread the writerly love.


The Case of the Empty Inbox

The Vast Unknown In December, I submitted five short stories to small literary presses and journals for potential publication. One sent me a rejection within a week, but the rest took their time. Four months later, I had received one new rejection, leaving three still looking over my work or letting it rust in a fat stack of emails from countless other writers.

Curious about the long wait, I looked up each remaining journal to check the reading periods, see if they posted information about a delay, or (I vainly hoped) had published my work and simply forgot to tell me. I remembered that one journal had not sent a confirmation email, and I discovered that it was no longer active, and indeed no longer available. Their links on databases for writers only took me to empty Could Not Be Found pages. Information about it existed on other sites, blogs, and five-year-old lists of calls for submissions, but the journal itself was simply gone. I know it was up and running in December when I sat at a cold kitchen table adjusting my cover letter and drinking Christmas-gift coffee. It’s not surprising that small online journals struggle, even stop publishing, but what would prompt it to vanish from the face of the Internet?

Somewhere in the foggy bays of the web sits an email containing a short story, a cover letter, and my name at the bottom. Is it still drifting along in the electronic waves, lost forever? Did it find itself to the inbox before the editors abandoned their little island? Did anybody bother to unpack the document in its cargo? Did other emails not make it in time and drift away into the darkness? I once read a sample of short stories and poems from this journal, not only defunct but scuttled and drowned, without proof that anybody once perused its archives, and it’s a bit spooky. I will probably never know why the little journal disappeared. The mystery may go unsolved forever.