WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Laying the groundwork

RE: Last week’s post about a possible new literary journal called The Disappointed Housewife, I’ve been doing some early foundational work on it to see if it might be able to fly. Thanks to WordPress, it’s easy enough to put together a free site that looks reasonably good and offers enough features to make it easy for readers to find what they’re looking for: poetry, fiction, essays. A search box for particular names and subjects, plus a monthly archive list. It would be nice and clean.

If I have one big concern it’s that my preference for the kind of stuff I’d like to publish in TDH might not come in at a pace that would sustain the thing. I’m thinking of new paradigms. A different slant on what stories, poems, and essays could be.

After last week’s post, I started thinking about the kinds of material I’d like to see, but I have to wonder if anyone is really producing it. For instance, poems that are submitted as photographs of handwritten text, maybe on index cards, or, even better, on some kind of medium you wouldn’t think of writing on. I can imagine a tale, of sorts, being told via a series of links that readers would click on to assemble the story. Or a slide show of images with captions that suggest new kind of narrative. Implied. Beneath the surface.

If you read my essay, “Gatecrash: liberating creativity in the age of boilerplate fiction,” you’ll remember that I’m hoping for our writing to take a hard left turn one of these days, to find new ways to tell stories so that we don’t have to keep repeating ourselves. Mash-ups of genres, text blended with other media like images and sound, text collage, experiments in chronology – we can try all kinds of different things to see what might work.

That’s what I’d like to see in The Disappointed Housewife.

So I guess my main question is, are you working on anything that’s utterly different? Do you know anyone who is? Are you willing to try something new, out of your comfort zone? Would you be willing to ask around in your online (or even actual) world to help find writers and other artists who might be sitting on innovative work they’re not sure what to do with?

Because the real problem is that there’s no market for stuff that’s perceived by publishers as “unsalable.” The truth is, they don’t know what’s unsalable – an ugly word that I can’t abide! – until they try to sell it, but they’re far too cautious for that. Experimental work, if it appears at all, shows up only in the most obscure outlets, as if it’s too off-putting for general readers.

And maybe it is. But maybe there are enough of us who’d still like to partake. And make.

Of course there’s a place in The Disappointed Housewife for more traditional forms and approaches. But my editorial eye would be interested in seeing offbeat surprises, twists, and manipulations of these forms, so that readers will begin to see that somebody’s doing fresh things with the familiar. You could write a typical short story but scramble the chronology somehow, reverse gender roles, have all the characters be hamsters – I don’t know. You could retell myths in a modern context, or have some intruding voice pester your characters with footnotes. There are a million ways to play with traditional material to make it feel revived.

Another kind of submission I’d hope for if this thing were to become a reality is in a category I’d call “Faux Forms & Genres,” where writers would parody cultural elements. Fake job applications, local news scripts, book reviews (like the one I did recently), crazy GPS directions, contracts, absurd recipes – just about anything that would be fun and interesting to mimic. And if you’re good at computer graphics, you’d be welcome to make facsimiles of the genuine articles with phony logos and letterheads, whatever would make it hit home.

So this is where my head is right now where The Disappointed Housewife is concerned. Anybody willing to go down this road with me?

28 comments on “Laying the groundwork

  1. kingmidget
    November 21, 2017

    There is a definitely a slice of the creative universe this would appeal to, it’s just, as you acknowledge, finding the people who occupy that slice. I’ve come across some on-line journals that play to the off-beat, so I know they’re out there.

    Happy to help you promote your effort when it is time to do so.

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 21, 2017

      Thanks, Mark. I guess I’ll have to find some writers’ forums where I can ask for submissions. If you know of any particular websites that publish this kind of thing, definitely let me know!

      • kingmidget
        November 21, 2017

        I think you’re not on Facebook but you may want to consider it. There are a number of groups on there where journals and e-zines and the like post calls for submissions.

      • Kevin Brennan
        November 21, 2017

        I have an author’s Facebook page, but I think it behaves differently when I try to look at other people’s pages. Weird. If I launch TDH, I might have to sign up for a regular FB account. Ugh.

  2. pinklightsabre
    November 21, 2017

    I like the idea and willing, will think about it some more too. Like it, thanks for the idea.

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 21, 2017

      Great, Bill! I’m hoping you’ll contribute some poetry or an essay, when the time comes.

      • pinklightsabre
        November 21, 2017

        Sure, thanks for the opportunity! Count me in.

  3. 1WriteWay
    November 21, 2017

    I have a hard enough time writing traditional stuff but I’ll be happy to promote or review 😉

    • Luanne
      November 21, 2017

      This just cracked me up, Marie. Kevin is definitely challenging us!

      • Kevin Brennan
        November 21, 2017

        Try it — you’ll like it! 😉

      • 1WriteWay
        November 22, 2017

        Indeed … he got me wondering if I could tell a story through stickies … you know, they are ubiquitous in the office place 😉

      • Kevin Brennan
        November 22, 2017

        And office refrigerator feud told in increasingly irate post-its? Yes!

      • Luanne
        November 22, 2017

        Yes yes yes!!!! If you do stickies, I should do to-do lists!

      • 1WriteWay
        November 22, 2017

        Lol … a to-do list in poetic form …

  4. jilldennison
    November 21, 2017

    I can’t make any promises, but I would love to try to submit something! Sounds like a bit of something different and I am certainly interested. Keep me in mind!

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 22, 2017

      Will do! I’ll let you know when to fire up your virtual pen. You’d do an essay, I assume?

      • jilldennison
        November 22, 2017

        Yes, that seems to be my forte. I have tried my hand at fiction a few times and … sounds about like the ol’ Dick & Jane books from 1st grade! One learns one’s limitations eventually!

  5. islandeditions
    November 22, 2017

    Reading this had me riffing … A story told on a series of Post-it notes (which I tried to do at one time) or as a series of memes that you read in a slide show.

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 22, 2017

      Fab! Love both ideas. I’ve been brainstorming a lot too. It’s amazing what comes to mind when you break out of the usual patterns. 👍🏻

  6. christineplouvier
    November 22, 2017

    Far out! This is the kind of writing at which my sister excels. I’ll forward this post to her.

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 22, 2017

      Wonderful! Watch this space for future announcements. 😉

  7. idgie57
    November 22, 2017

    Sign me up!

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 22, 2017

      Great! What are you in for? Story, poem, essay, or … 😉

      • idgie57
        November 22, 2017

        Caustic essays, satire, and faux news. I was born with my tongue in my cheek.

      • Kevin Brennan
        November 22, 2017

        Hey, sounds perfect! Caustic always goes a long way with me. 😼

  8. Ilona Elliott
    November 22, 2017

    Sounds like fun Kevin. I might have an essay or satirical news blurb to throw out there.

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This entry was posted on November 21, 2017 by in Publishing and tagged , , , .
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