As we get our seventieth issue all kitted out in its Sunday best and ready to meet you on December 21, we are also preparing to say goodbye to our second team of Readers In Residence, who worked so hard to help find these stories. Over the next four days, we will be posting some of their thoughts on their time at SmokeLong as well as their advice for submitters.
Today’s post is from Alicia Bakewell.
by Alicia Bakewell
My overall feeling at the end of three months is that I love flash fiction and never get tired of reading it. Every time a submission hit my inbox, I sat down excited at the prospect of potentially having my mind blown. That sense of anticipation is what I love about flash – that in two or three minutes’ time, I might just see the world a little differently. I wondered if I would become jaded after so much reading. I didn’t.
There were very few stories I discarded after one quick read through. Most warranted a second read, even if they didn’t thrill me the first time around. As has been said many times before, the stories that didn’t make it were rarely bad, but often unpolished, a few drafts away from being ready. Of the stories I didn’t recommend, there are many which I hope the writers will re-work, try a new angle with, chip away at, and ultimately have success with.
I read approximately two hundred stories over three months. There was one, yes just one, that I loved immediately and unconditionally. I’m not sure if it will make the final cut, but I will never forget it. As writers, we always hope that a reader will react in this way, but of course it’s rare. Being a Reader in Residence really showed me that. There were plenty of stories that were absolute top quality, but only one gave me that heart-stopping reaction. A handful of other stories I came to love more slowly, yet just as intensely.
I look forward to reading the upcoming issue of SmokeLong, both to see if any of my favourites have turned up, and to enjoy treasures the other readers found. Having had a peek behind the scenes, I feel I will appreciate the finished product even more.
Alicia Bakewell is a short fiction writer locked down in Western Australia. Her work has been published in Ellipsis Zine, Fictive Dream, Spelk Fiction, Moon Park Review and others. Her story ‘Barely Casting a Shadow’ was the inaugural winner of the Reflex Fiction competition, and her 2018 piece ‘Ballet Girls’ was nominated for a Pushcart prize. She is trying to give up writing poetry.