Monday Miscellany - September 6, 2021

by Baltimore Review Staff Members

Happy Labor Day!

Great to see Marc Alan Di Martino's poem from the Spring 2019 issue translated into Italian (English version is here too)--and getting a wider audience. The poem is also the opener of his book "Unburial."


Happy to report that we are almost done proofreading Baltimore Review 2021, the compilation of work published in our Summer and Fall 2020 and Winter and Spring 2021 issues. We hope to start sending out contributor copies by the end of this week!


The latest new issue announcements from NewPages, including our summer issue. 


Not sure about which letters in your title should be capitalized? Here’s a nifty converter tool.


Need a writing prompt or two to think about this week?

Kathryn Brown, a retired police captain, writes about the emotional toll of her work in her creative nonfiction piece, “Ambushed.” Many of us have had jobs with moments—or long periods—of turmoil, jobs that may have made us question who we are. Jobs that, perhaps, brought us to a realization of what we are capable of, or an awareness of our limitations. Think about how a job has influenced your own life. Or create a character with a life-altering job.  

Obsessions (a timed exercise):

1.  Start with “I remember” and quickly write some memories of times you or someone you know developed an obsessive interest in some hobby or other activity. Include specific details. Here’s the introduction from “Sorrel” by Bryana Atkinson (Spring 2021 issue), as an example:    

“This past summer, my mother began a new hobby. She took a sudden, almost manic interest in gardening. Nearly every day saw her bent over in our backyard, tending to plants; nearly every weekend found her in a nursery, perusing new options to pluck up and rehome into her growing collection. Each grocery excursion was an excuse to buy more for her new interest. She went out for milk and came back with a new trowel, or a new set of neon green gardening gloves, or a new wide-brimmed sun hat.”

Mine your memory for 5 minutes.

2.  Possible ways to turn that memory into fiction: Change the characters (and give them personalities, relationships, jobs), where and when the story takes place, and some details related to the obsession—or completely change the obsession.

Ask questions. How is the obsession a problem? Who thinks it’s a problem? Could it get out of hand? Or is there something wonderful/mysterious/magical about it? 

Brainstorm possible scene ideas (one-sentence summaries) involving these characters and their situation. 

Work on transforming your memory’s “true” details into imagined details for 5 minutes.

3.  Continue the previous exercise if you need a little more time. Next, write a first sentence that will grab a reader’s attention—trouble brewing or some indication that life is about to change or a hint of an impending departure from reality into the magical.

Keep writing. Let your imagination wander. Try not to edit as you go or have any firm roadmap in mind. Try to avoid too much description and background information. Stay in the present. Writing in the present tense may help with that—and often works well for very short stories. 

Let your imagination wander for 5 minutes.

Wishing you all a week full of imagining—and some productive revising sessions, too.