I'm Starting a Collection (of Collections)
I started the new year right, with an email from Dzanc Books letting me know that my latest manuscript had made the longlist of their Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Prize.
Every time a version of this collection gets close, it's a lot heartening (yes!) and a little heartbreaking (nooooo). Even so, as I add stronger and stronger new stories, edit older stories, eliminate stories that feel "retired" or don't sync up well thematically, rearrange the line-up, and/or re-title the collection, I know without a doubt that it's getting better.
For some reason, I feel a push to bundle up the best stories from the first 20 years (!) of my writing career and bind them together - get them out there on a shelf somewhere, maybe even in people's hands - in order to prepare a clean slate for the next 20 years. What would I write next if I didn't have to think about the current ones anymore? Maybe it doesn't work like that, but I can't help but think of it that way.
Anyway. This collection, in its various forms, has now been a top-4 finalist for the Iowa Short Fiction Award (2018), top-5 finalist for the Press 53 Award for Short Fiction (2022), top-10 finalist for the Black Lawrence Hudson Prize (2022), and a longlisted honoree for the Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Prize (2023). A chapbook of the flash fiction contained within it was also shortlisted for The Masters Review Chapbook Open (2022).
All of this is to say: from my keyboard to (whoever's) eyes/ears: maybe this is the year.