The Laurel Review published my story "The Wide Missouri, the Blue Danube" in their latest issue. This is my second print-only (not online) publication in a row. When I first started publishing, print-only publications were the norm. In fact, I remember when a print journal asked to put one of my early stories online and I refused because it seemed like I would lose control of my story. And that does happen, as a recent case of an author plagiarizing stories from online journals shows.
However, over time I realized that online journals had some advantages. They opened my work up for a much larger audience. Many online journals are highly selective and prestigious, especially for publishing flash fiction. Now, when something is published only in print, some friends ask why they can't just click and read it.
Still, there is something satisfying about holding an actual copy of your work in your hands, so I also enjoy publishing in print journals. It's nice to do some of each.
The story, "The Wide Missouri, the Blue Danube," is set in Budapest. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, I used a trip to Budapest with a chorus tour as an inspiration, including a river cruise on the Danube. We also went on a Danube cruise in Prague, so some details from that cruise snuck in as well, especially singing "Shenandoah." In Budapest, "The Blue Danube" waltz played nonstop on the cruise. In Prague, though, we sang music about America's Missouri river. Both river songs made it into the story's title.
Prick of the Spindle, one of my favorite literary magazines, has been putting their archive back up online after a redesign. Recently I blogged about the journal reposting my essay "No Choice." Now the two fiction pieces they published previously have also come back in the archive.
The first, "Your Superpower," is a whimsical story about speed dating. It is set in San Francisco, as many of my fiction pieces are. Since I've been talking about story inspirations in this blog, I wish I had a good story to tell, but for this piece, I simply imagined what the superficial meetings of speed dating would be like, and the story took on some metaphorical, not quite realist qualities.
The second story, "About My Mother," is one I'm particularly happy to see reappear because it was selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 as one of the best flash fictions of the year. This story has another somewhat boring origin story. I was listening to a radio interview of someone (I forget who) who had a celebrity father. The interviewee said "Everyone always asks about my father." I thought that would be a great starting place for a story, but, since I didn't want to steal it directly, I changed it to mother instead of father. The rest of the piece has nothing to do with the interview.
I've been writing about where stories come from, and it strikes me how often the origins of stories are clear yet mysterious. I remember a line from an interview, but have no idea how it morphed into what it became. The important thing for writers, though, is dig when you see the nugget of a story. You don't know what you'll find or what you'll fashion it into.
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Bayou, The Laurel Review, and Sou’wester.
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