Raquel Thorne: We published you a couple of times over at cahoodaloodaling before we invited you to guest edit He Said/She Said with us. You’ve been in the game a while, but this is your first gig behind the scenes. What’s it like being on the other side?
Paul Beckman: Daunting. First of all it was advertised as a “Blind Submission’ and I expected people to follow that simple rule. I couldn’t believe it when writers submit work with not only their name and address on every page but their picture too. The theme, “He said/She Said” is straightforward and readily understandable so seeing what’s coming in over the transom which has nothing to do with the theme combined with the ignoring of the blind submission has given me a new respect for you editors who have to put up with these kinds of submissions on a regular basis. However; having said that and receiving a piece of work that’s good makes up for a lot. It also made me understand that I am on the side of the fence I should be on-the writing side, so for that reason alone this has been a positive experience.
RT: After being behind the scenes, do you have any advice for future submitters of cahoodaloodaling?
PB: Read the simple guidelines. Write, re-write-read your work aloud-re-write and then submit. Read cahoodaloodaling—it’s a good magazine and you don’t have to read it all at once but give it a shot before you submit.
RT: You had a collection of flash fiction, Peek (Big Table Publishing), come out in January. Care to give us a “peek” at the collection?
PB: “Peek” actually came out in February and I can tell you that it is comprised of 65 Flash Fiction stories in 117 pages. The stories run the gambit from 2 paragraphs to 3 pages and over half of them have been previously published in magazines both online (e.g. cahoodaloodaling) to print (e.g. Playboy). “Peek” is not only the title but the opening story in the collection. There is somewhat of a recurring theme in this collection of peeking, watching, listening in and the like, so I was fortunate to have had so many stories that did not stray far from the title (given a little poetic license.) There are stories involving dysfunctional (is there any other kind?) families, prisoners (regular & death penalty), nuns, co-workers, lovers, and more but the other theme that binds these stories is humor. No matter what the circumstance there is likely to be some humor. It’s published by Big Table Publishing from Boston and is available in paper and e.
This is one from my book. It’s called “Wrinkles” and was published by Connotation Press.
“Wait,” Marcia said. “We can work this out. Give us a chance.”
“No,” I told her. “I don’t see any possibility of our working this out. We’ve been down this road before more than once and it always ends the same way.”
“But things will be different this time.” She said looking at me across the counter with pleading eyes. “I’ve figured out where we went wrong and now that I understand, everything can be put right.”
“Marcia, believe me when I tell you that my leaving is harder on me than it is on you.”
“Give me another chance—give us a final chance and you’ll see.”
“This was the final chance from our last in-depth talk and things only changed for a short while and then it’s back to the same old same old— wrinkles, it’s all about the wrinkles. It’s nothing I choose to live with any longer.”
Marcia bit her lower lip and turned her back. I picked up my imperfect dry cleaning, placed two twenties on the counter, and left, vowing never to return to her dry cleaning store no matter how convenient it was to my apartment.
RT: You don’t only write, you also record some of your stories and flash. (For anyone who missed Paul’s “Brick”, you can listen to it here.) Journals hosting video and audio recordings are becoming more common. Who else should our readers check out?
PB: 4’33, Red Fez, Ink, Sweat & Tears, PANK Magazine, and since more and more online mags are including audio stories and poems I’d suggest checking out Duotrope. My published story website, www.paulbeckmanstories.com has print, online, audio, and video stories.
RT: Since you’re guest editing our dialogue issue, can you point us to some of your favorite authors who are masters? Perhaps share a favorite passage or interaction with us?
PB: Pamela Painter, Kathy Fish, Meg Pokrass, Susan Tepper, Nancy Stohlman, Lydia Davis, Donald Bartheleme, Leonard Michaels, James Claffey, Michael Keith, Gary Powell, and Meg Tuite for starters. I also write quite a few stories in all dialogue and have a story upcoming in Dialogual.
We’re still accepting submissions for He Said/She Said until 3/21/15.
What was said? You tell us. This issue we’re seeking submissions with conversations, dialogues, and quotations. While we want a strong conversational component to each piece selected for He Said/She Said, this call for submissions is theme, not form, based. Send us your visual, audio, written, and multimedia work of any genre and style that you feel speaks to this theme. This is a great opportunity to submit a scene from your play or to collaborate with others.