A Cluster of Color on a Palette of Possibility


A cluster of color on a palette of possibility.

That’s how I’ve been feeling since my June 4th post that linked readers to my essay in Brevity’s Blog about the decision not to go with themes for Thread.

The weeks since that post gifted me with a beautiful selection of submissions and many new blog subscribers. A warm welcome to you all!

Since 2008, I’ve been utilizing this space to write about creativity, craft and the writing life. I’ve ruminated on words as worlds unto themselves, writing as a way of seeing up close and far away, what made me burn my journals, the potency in taking a writing break, and struggling with the writing-and-reading-rich promise of summer. EBB & Flow is also a direct link to updates on, and the latest issues of, Thread.

I believe that we all get more than enough to read online as it is, so I only post a few times a month when I’ve got something on my mind that feels share-worthy.

And right now, it’s thank you. Whether you found Thread through Brevity or Duotrope or Facebook, thank you for reading Thread, writing to say how much you enjoyed Thread, submitting your work and for supporting Thread by telling others about it. To those of you who submitted your essays in the month of June, my goal is to respond to you by month’s end because I’ve never much liked all that waiting to hear from literary editors myself.

I’m hoping that the cluster of color will begin to look more like this soon:

craypas #2

I’m working on a blog post about chaos theory and the creative process for early July.

Hoping you’ll stay tuned and in touch.

To a word-and-image-rich, sun-drenched summer.

Photos by Ellen Blum Barish








Nurturing the Pages


January brought a stunning selection of essays for Thread. Such gifts! Reading them is like being seated at a magnificent banquet, a glorious tasting of my favorite recipes. In less than three weeks, I found six beautiful expressions of the human heart that touch on, among other things, memory, geography and epiphany. I can’t wait for you to read them.

But wait, we must. Because as easy and swift as it would be to copy and paste these writers’ words into the site and insert the images I’ve taken or collected to highlight them, I’ve entered that time in publishing that’s unique to literary publications: edit mode.

That final edit is a reminder of why I’m doing this. Not only because a careful edit reduces misspellings and typos.  Sure, that’s a huge part of the process. But a good edit also brings out what’s best in a piece; it can make the words more true, encourage some of the words to actually pop off the page, to make the whole piece sing.

I’ve certainly posted lightly edited lines on Facebook, Twitter and sent quickly crafted emails. But I’m old school when it comes to publishing.  I think the time consuming, detailed nature of editing is what makes literary publications different from everything else. I think this is why we enjoy reading them. Well edited words leave a trace; a light, fragrant scent of being well nurtured like a fine, hot house plant.

So the Summer issue of Thread is slated for an early April release. The reading will take place in late April, tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, April 29th. (Place to be determined but it’s likely to be one of the two Curt’s Cafe locales in Evanston.)

Which means that submissions from here on out will be considered for the Fall 2015 or Spring 2016 issues. To find out more about what I’m looking for, go to the Submissions page of the Thread site. Stay current with news about issues and readings, as well as links to interesting articles about the creative process by liking Thread on Facebook.

In other related news:

Those of you who live in the Chicago area: Come on over to Max and Benny’s in Northbrook later this month for an evening devoted to the essay at the February Chicago Jewish Authors Literary Series. I’ll be reading selections from my book of essays, Views from the Home Office Window, and talking about Thread. The event is free. Monday, February 23rd at 7 pm.

Photograph by Ellen Blum Barish










Over the past two years, I’ve submitted my own essay labors of love to more than fifty publications. I’ve been told by writer friends that this is a drop in the bucket, numbers-wise. They’ve argued that if I doubled or tripled that amount, I’d have far better odds of seeing my work published. I suspect there’s some mathematical truth to this. But, there’s really only so much rejection a girl can take, right?

The way I look at it, of those fifty-something attempts at getting my work published, four of my essays have found homes. I’m okay with that math. I’ll even reach and say pleased, because I know what I’m up against: There are a lot of remarkable essayists out there. And a growing number of outstanding literary publications that publish them.

It’s worth a moment to stop and look at the word submit.

To submit is to offer, present, put forward. These suggests something proactive. But the word also is defined as a yielding, a succumbing, a letting go. It’s this second definition that is, without a doubt, the hardest for any artist. We put an enormous amount of ourselves into our work; we edit, tweak, cut, add, shave, rework, and sometimes  start all over again. When we finally feel that our work is ready to send out –  a moment worth acknowledging, practically worth a small parade –  we are presenting it and surrendering it, simultaneously. Like a tree that put itself out there protectively, like shelter, but also appears, perhaps with one or two branches, to be letting itself go.

It’s with a deep understanding of this weird and wonderful creative process that I announce open submissions for Thread beginning on January 12th, 2015. That’s next week! Please do review the Submissions Guidelines on the site. I never fully understood what all the fuss was until I was in the position of reading vast amounts of content. The guidelines really help smooth the reading process. There’s less in the way and more room for the editor to experience the small universe those words create, the art you’ve poured yourself into.

At this writing, my plan is to publish two more issues in 2015, translating into eighteen essays, perhaps a few less as I have my eye on three or four pieces. Keep that in mind as you prepare to submit. Know that if there isn’t a fit between us this time, it may not be about the writing, but rather the content as I want to keep it diverse. That may feel like bad news to you. But the good news is that there are many excellent literary pubs out there for you to try, and I’m urging you to submit whenever and wherever you can.

Putting yourself out there and letting go is, by itself, a potent and worthwhile experience, a big part of the creative process and what draws us back to the page and screen, again and again.