Writing and Publishing from the Front Lines of a Pandemic

June 3, 2020 § Leave a comment


ZoomChristopher Madden, David Lëgere, and Colin Hosten are editors at Woodhall Press, publisher of Flash Nonfiction Funny, Flash Nonfiction Food, and the forthcoming Fast Funny Women. The three of them had a socially distanced discussion on our current public health crisis and the importance of storytelling as a way of documenting individual experiences. Below is a truncated transcript of their conversation:

Christopher Madden: We’ve published two collections of flash nonfiction, with a third on the way. Is this perhaps the right format for pandemic-related storytelling?

Colin Hosten: The context seems very different, thematically. We’ve tackled humor and food. How would we navigate the ongoing tragedy of this crisis?

David Lëgere: The theme is different, but I don’t think that changes our goal as a publisher—to connect readers and writers through vital storytelling.

CM: Flash nonfiction, specifically, may be very well suited for people on the front line of this pandemic, as opposed to longer form essays.

DL: Exactly—it allows us to capture as many voices as possible in one compendium.

CH: And what kinds of voices would we be seeking? You mention people on the front lines…

CM: Basically anyone facing this crisis head-on. Nurses and other medical professionals. ER staff. Essential workers making sure trash is still picked up. Delivery workers, first responders….

DL: Patients?

CM: Sure—the idea is to preserve and amplify these essential voices and stories from anyone caught on the front lines of this.

CH: I think it’s a fantastic idea. And it may be a way to highlight some of the things that these diverse voices might have in common.

DL: What should we use as a working title?

CH: We already have a paradigm going with Flash Nonfiction Funny and Flash Nonfiction Food. Maybe something like Flash Nonfiction Frontline?

CM: Is that too general? Should we make it clearer that we mean the front lines of this pandemic?

DL: I mean, this is basically the main thing occupying the public consciousness for the foreseeable future—let’s just be direct: Flash Nonfiction COVID-19.

CH: Well, that certainly is direct.

CM: It’s more to-the-point,

CH: We’ll need to get a call for submissions out, sooner rather than later.

DL: Are people even able to do much writing through all this stress and trauma?

CM: Maybe part of the point of this is to encourage those on the front lines to use writing as a tool for reflection, for negotiating the trauma.

CH: And, again, the flash form allows people to dive right in and back out again in just 750 words. To Chris’s point, flash nonfiction may be the appropriate vehicle for something like this.

DL: So what’s the best way to get the word out, besides all the usual suspects?

CH: Brevity publishes some of the best flash nonfiction being written these days. We should reach out to them and see if they’d be willing to share with their readers.

DL: Good idea!

CM: I sure hope we get lots of strong submissions.

DL: I’ll be checking flashnonfictioncovid@gmail.com every day!

CH: And let’s make sure folks know they can go to https://www.woodhallpress.com/post/call-for-submissions for more information.

CM: And share it with their friends on the front lines!

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