I've gotten used to posting a link when something I've written has found its way to publication; even when a piece appears in a print journal, there's often an online version too. But not always. Since I'm a writer-who-came-of-age-in-the-time-of-typewriters, there's a part of me that finds a print-only publication quite satisfying. But since I'm also a writer-who-has-adapted-and-loves-the-online-world, it also feels a bit odd.
"The Nurse We Needed" is a piece of flash nonfiction excerpted from my memoir manuscript, and appears in the Fall 2014 issue of The Healing Muse (volume 14). When the package arrived with my two contributor copies, I had a sense of nostalgia…postal mail, the printed word, the glossy cover, the discovery of fanning through the pages, the small thrill of flipping back and forth from table of contents to contributor bios to individual random pieces of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and artwork.
Okay, enough nostalgia. I'll admit too, there was a smidge of disappointment that I couldn't oh-so-easily put up a link to my work. But that soon passed.
Then I was on to my usual habit—scanning to see if any writers I know and/or admire also have work included. I don't know why this makes me so happy when it happens. It's not about validation (okay, that's a lie, if I found myself in the same journal or anthology as, say, Joan Didion…) so much as knowing I'm in this literary world together with other kindred souls.
Immediately, I found two brilliant, linked pieces of micro flash nonfiction by Rita Ciresi, a colleague and fellow MFA faculty member. I also recognized several other names in the nonfiction listings, and a smattering of those in the poetry section as well. Next, I read randomly from all over the journal, and admired some of the visual art, too.
The Healing Muse is produced by the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the Upstate (NY) Medical University, with a focus on work about illness, health, loss, the body, hospitals, healthcare, grief, sickness, care giving, medical workers, and other related topics. There is plenty of good work in this issue, representing so much rich experience.
Editor-in-chief Deidre Neilen wrote in her Editor's Note, "Here is another paradox: the journal feels so light in my hands, yet it contains the weight of complex histories and the impossible questions they provoke."
My piece feels that way, at least for me: it's about what little I know actually happened, what I surely can never know, and what I imagine might have happened between my father and the hospice nurse who saw him only once, and very shortly before he died, alone.
Three weeks ago, I had made plans to participate in a reading and 14th anniversary celebration on the Upstate Medical campus, adjacent to my undergraduate alma mater, Syracuse University; it seemed an ideal quick road-trip getaway. But the universe laughed, my plans folded, and so now that I can't post a photo from the event, and instead of a link to my work, here's the page where you can buy a copy of the Fall 2014 issue of The Healing Muse ($10). Or maybe you have a piece of work you'd like to submit.
I'd also like to give one blog reader a copy of the Fall issue. Just leave a comment by midnight on Tuesday, November 24 (must have U.S. postal address and a trackback web contact).