I have great news to start off the weekend. One of my short stories, "Postcards from Clockworld," is going to be published online at The Bookends Review on Monday, May 29!
I wrote this story at Kenyon Review Writers Workshop last summer in Nancy Zafris' class. The prompt was to write a story based on a random postcard handed to me and to write it as a series of five consecutive postcards. "That's a good one," Nancy said (or something close to that) as she handed a postcard to me. It obviously was a reference to something, and I had no idea what. It was an image of a young woman sitting in the grass trying to pry open the face of a clock. It turned out to be the Nancy Drew book cover for The Secret of the Old Clock, but I didn't get the reference. Not even close. I was a Little House on the Prairie kind of girl.
It turned out I also got the assignment wrong. In my first draft, I wrote a series of notes between two characters, a back and forth argument between a woman and her spouse who were not travelling together. When I met with Nancy, she said the draft was great, but no. I didn't do the assignment.
That evening, I worked until 1:00 a.m. alone at the kitchen table in my dorm/apartment and rewrote it. I love how the story was transformed by the revision and how my initial mistake in giving the other person a voice allowed me to respond to that voice in the final version, even though his words are not on the page. Sometimes mistakes are fabulous.
I received three or four rejection letters for this story that were near-acceptances, each stating the virtues of the story, but also saying it was not for them. One journal stated what I had suspected -- that the letter format bothered them. They asked me to rewrite it as a straight narrative and resubmit. I decided to do that, but the very next day, the story was accepted by The Bookends Review. I am incredibly grateful to The Bookends Review for publishing the story as is with no changes.
How do you all feel about reading epistolary stories? For my writing friends, have you written one? Have you had lovely rejections or ones that have prompted you to rewrite a story?