SmokeLong Quarterly

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Letter from the Editor (22)

Story by Randall Brown September 15, 2008

Art by Marty D. Ison

Ron Sexsmith has this song, “In a Flash,” and it begins: “The end must come for some good reason / I’ve heard it said before / To everything a time and season / What was this season for?” It’s reassuring to know that, when faced with the prophesied end, it only takes $700 billion to buy you more time. What times these are! Campaign ads. Interview bites. YouTube clips. The volatility of markets and weather. Presidential polls. Banks and neighborhoods wiped out. An autumn of flashes.

The titles within this issue of SmokeLong Quarterly contain that sense of transience: “Innocence, Briefly.” “Campfire.” “One Night Out.” “Two Minute Silence.” A sense of uncertainty: “How Anything Got Done.” “True Identity.” “Waiting for a Private Room.” A sense of improbable action: “Constructing Birds.” “Breathing Oysters.” A mysterious truth: “Fatback.” “Bounty.” “Beautiful.” A soundlessness: “The Mime’s Dog.” And each one infused with “Tenderoni.”

I get the pleasure not only of reading the hundreds of submissions for each issue, but also of interviewing each accepted author. For this issue, I asked, along with separate questions, a common one: “Finish the sentence that begins I write….” And oh what the authors in this issue wrote back.

I write stories that make my mother uncomfortable, but more and more, the pride is taking over.

I write in the face of rejection and turndown, and poor feedback and disinterest from many sides, including my most loved ones.

I write when I can.

I write to reconnect with the solitary creature that I am.

I write in a panic sometimes because the thoughts are coming quicker than I can type.

I write to explore. I write to be read. I write to become less intolerant, of myself and others.

I write longhand sometimes and find it satisfying, like building a piece of furniture.

I write because the world is a crowded, angry place, and writing is quiet, even when it hurts.

I write because the blank page is a really good listener.

I write to try to get to the other side of things that worry or hurt and amaze me in this world.

I write to be most myself.

I write…I write…I hit my head on the wall…

…because life scares me, and I’m only ever gutsy and unafraid and carefree and locked in a moment I can control when I’m writing.

It’s a very small thing writing a flash—and a very large thing, too. All of us at SLQ hope you enjoy reading these authors and their flashes as much as we did. I always feel better after reading through an issue before it goes live. I’m less isolated, more human. And, most importantly of course, ready to write some flash. The times, it would seem, call for it.


Randall Brown
Lead Editor, SmokeLong Quarterly

About the Author

Randall Brown is on the faculty of Rosemont College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. He has been published widely, both online and in print. He earned his MFA at Vermont College.

About the Artist

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison’s work here.


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