Much good fiction is about the journey, the quest—where the characters often learn more from the process itself than they do once they get where they were going in the first place.
SmokeLong Quarterly has itself had a significant journey. With this issue, the 40th issue, SmokeLong has been around for 10 years. Ten years! I have not been on the editorial staff the entire time, but I have been a fan of SmokeLong since the beginning and can appreciate the importance of such a milestone in an online literary world where fine journals come and go long before they reach 10 years.
We all need to thank Dave Clapper for SmokeLong‘s success. He was there in the beginning—this is his baby—and it is through his hard work and dedication and passion that SmokeLong is where it is today. Even though he isn’t as involved these days in the day-to-day operation of the journal, it is his spirit that keeps SLQ’s reputation and quality thriving, and I am grateful to him for that.
I want to get back to journeys for a moment. Several of the stories in this issue are about a journey—whether physically, such as Sherrie’s Flick’s quiet and but powerful piece “Road Trip,” which takes place before cell phones or Map Quest or GPS; or more of a mental journey as in Terence Lane’s story “PTSD,” where the narrator is passing through town to visit an uncle and grappling with all sorts of emotional peaks and valleys in the process. Ben Black’s “The Woodcutter’s Wife” is a new twist on the Hansel and Gretel fairytale—and that journey into the woods gets a whole new spin this time around. Christopher James sends two grieving men just across town to the library in “The Empty Road,” but the baggage involved in that trip is much, much greater than the quick errand might appear at first.
We also have stories by Adam Peterson and Megan Giddings, our Kathy Fish Fellows for the year, and we are so excited to work with both of these talented people. The Fish Fellowship is something unique to SmokeLong and is a pivotal landmark on my own personal journey, having won it myself in 2009. Working with the staff that year while working on my own writing was invaluable to me. I not only grew as a writer with their advice and knowledge, but the fellowship opened many doors that I didn’t even know existed. Before winning the Fish Fellow, I could probably count all my previous publications on one hand. That year alone, I published more stories than I ever had before that—and met so many writers and editors who were not only very talented, but super nice and helpful. It’s truly been an amazing journey for me, and I do hope that Adam and Megan experience even a fraction of that this year.
One last thing—our best-of print anthology should be available in the next few months. We are very excited to showcase some of the most memorable stories from these first 40 issues. Look for announcements regarding the anthology coming soon—including an awesome Kickstarter campaign that will hopefully help us do some great things as we start the next 10 years of SmokeLong.
Ok, I’ve blabbered on long enough. Thank you for reading these 20 amazing stories, and thank you for all your support over the last 10 years. It is truly an honor to be a senior editor here, and I am continuously humbled by all the people who donate their time, talent, and art to us.
Happy birthday to SmokeLong!
Senior Editor, SmokeLong Quarterly
June 24, 2013