I found out last week that a short story of mine was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. It’s a flash fiction piece titled “Ultra.” I wrote it last year after meeting the editor of the Toho journal. They had a themed edition coming up and he invited me to submit something.
Well, I kind of have a policy of saying yes to anything career related, and I’d been kicking around an idea for my third novel, so I decided to go for it. I wrote a draft, then spent a couple of weeks working to get it under the flash fiction limit of 500 words and submitted it.
They liked it, published it, and I was thrilled. I’ve had a few short stories published before, but it’s never gone down like that. Then, out of the blue, I get an email from the editor saying they’ve selected my story as one of their five nominations for the Pushcart Prize.
I’ll be honest, my first response was actually “holy shit.” Because I don’t think of myself as a short story writer, and the Pushcart is kind of a big deal in the short story world.
You can’t submit work for the Pushcart Prize. You can only have a piece nominated by an editor who has published your work in the preceding year.
Given that Toho Journal publishes flash fiction, they have literally put hundreds of short stories out into the world this year. The fact that they chose mine to be in their top five is such an honor.
I mean, the editor told me he loved the story, but I figured he was be cordial. What’s he going to say? Well, we needed to fill one more page and your story fit. Not likely.
Keeping It Real
Now, to put it in perspective, if every literary journal in the country gets to nominate 5 stories, that’s (by rough estimate) about 200,000 nominations.
Some (snobby-ass) authors argue that being nominated is nothing to brag about and that putting a Pushcart Prize nomination on your website or resume makes you look amateurish. Duly noted, douchebag. And I don’t give a shit.
Because you know what? As writers, we don’t get all that many opportunities to soak up praise. Just getting a story published is a pretty awesome feat in my book. Then to have it chosen by the editor for a little special attention is above and beyond. Definitely worth a line on my resume (and a blog post).
I don’t expect to win. Because I’ve read the Pushcart Prize publication and I know how high that bar is set. But, like Ms. Octavia says: It’s truly an honor to be nominated.