Smoking With Lindsey Gates Markel
by Gay Degani
What struck me about this story is the tone and how it leads the reader through the main character's depression. Her observations create a window to her heart. Did the tone guide you through this piece? It almost feels as if it did. Was that the inspiration?
Art by Eleanor Leonne Bennett
I live in the Midwest, where ants are a mainstay in the summertime, and I often find myself sitting outside, focused on myself and my many varied problems, when I'll glance down and see these rows and rows of ants going about their business without complaint. Depending on my mood at the time, it's usually heartening to see them and be reminded that there are whole worlds that go on without me, but in this piece, it just enforces the main character's feelings of isolation and guilt.
Along with tone, I love the imagery of this piece, such as "…it was just a rectangle of dry dirt but now it's August and the whole thing is green and wet, full of fruit and spiders." This suggests to me that she has gone into the garden ostensibly to smoke, but also the barrenness of the rectangle of dry dirt appealed to her at first. It's simple, straight-forward, that rectangle, but with time passing it gets complicated with living things, the most annoying being the ants with their blind submission to their DNA. "I look at the railroad tie I see them [ants] everywhere, lines spreading around me like a spilled drink."
How do you approach putting imagery into your writing? Is this something that comes naturally to you or does it emerge over several drafts? Do I have this all wrong?
Thank you! And yes, I tend to start with image and work out. I find imagery to be a really tangible inspiration, especially when the images are related to the blood and guts of nature. The outdoors lends itself well to relatable metaphors—we can deny our fates as much as we want, but in the end, we're all dirt and blood and teeth and roots. I love that.
Can you tell us a little about what other projects you have? Do you focus on flash or do you also create longer work?
I mostly write short stories and have just started playing around with flash this year. I'm currently working on tightening up my collection for submission. I also edit the blog Pinkie Swear , which features weekly installments of user-submitted childhood stories retold and illustrated.
What writer would you like to sit down with and have a long confab about writing? What would you talk about? What would you want him or her to tell you about getting good?
I'm obsessed with the internet for many reasons, and easy exposure to writers I admire is one of them. I first submitted a piece of writing when I was in college—only seven or so years ago—and trying to be a published writer just felt impossible. I had no idea how to do it.
Now I follow many of my favorite writers on Twitter. Also there are publishers and lit mags and editors and authors everywhere, writing Tumblr posts and tweeting about their everyday writing lives, all giving out priceless advice all the time. I think it's much easier to visualize the trajectory from beginner to successful writer. That said, I'm overtly obsessed with Elizabeth Ellen, and that is that.
Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16-year-old internationally award-winning artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature's Best Photography and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News web site and on the cover of books and magazines in the United States and Canada. She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run "See The Bigger Picture" global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010.
Issue Thirty-Seven (September 24, 2012):
Two Boyfriends by Simon Barker «»
Two Days in American History by Patrick Allen Carberry «»
What I Told God by Sarah Carson «»
Partners by Simon Jacobs «»
Wreck by Will Kaufman «»
Keep It Down by Harry Leeds «»
Ants by Lindsey Gates Markel «»
Quantifiable Consequence by Adam Padgett «»
The Temperature At Which Paper Burns by Young Rader «»
Bad Traffic by Matt Rowan «»
Clearings by Joseph Spece «»
Texas Vs. London by Jon Steinhagen «»
Clichés by Aaron Teel «»
When I Was Twenty-Three by Dan Townsend «»
Revived by Eugenio Volpe «»
Jalapeno Summer by Ryan Werner «»
A Collector by Bess Winter «»
Simon Barker «»
Patrick Allen Carberry «»
Sarah Carson «»
Simon Jacobs «»
Will Kaufman «»
Harry Leeds «»
Lindsey Gates Markel «»
Adam Padgett «»
Young Rader «»
Matt Rowan «»
Joseph Spece «»
Jon Steinhagen «»
Aaron Teel «»
Dan Townsend «»
Eugenio Volpe «»
Ryan Werner «»
Bess Winter «»
Cover Art by Jennifer B. Hudson «»
Letter From the Editor
Interested in subscribing to SmokeLong's weekly newsletter? Click here. An email should be created. Send it as is, and you'll be subscribed. If the link does not work for you, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Subscribe slq-info in the body of the email (no subject is necessary). You'll receive updates detailing the release of new issues, new reading periods, contests, etc. We do not make our mail list available to anyone else.