Dear Sundog Nation,
I’m writing you because we’re not receiving many nonfiction submissions. We want to read your nonfiction submissions. Will you please send us your nonfiction submissions?
Would it help if I told you more about us?
Q: Who is “us”?
A: “Us” is Sundog’s nonfiction staff: Cynthia Brandon Slocum, and me, Richard Hackler. Here is a photograph of Cynthia hiding behind a pumpkin.
And a list of facts so that you might know her in a deeper, more holistic sense.
- lives in Spokane, Washington.
- is a vocal defender of the Oxford comma.
- purchased for me my favorite pair of socks—solid brown, with a pink flamingo pattern.
- is probably a better bowler than you.
There is more, but maybe she’ll write here someday, and it would be better to hear it from her.
And here I am, wearing a bathrobe. I’d never worn a bathrobe before. But the photographer and I both thought it would be funny to pose me in a bathrobe, drinking gin, reading Beckett, smoking a bubble pipe. There was meant to be a cat asleep on my knee, but both of the photographer’s cats proved uncooperative.
Q: Okay. But what sorts of nonfiction are you looking for?
A: We are drawn, particularly, to distinct voices. We would love it if your nonfiction replicated for us the experience of being spoken to by someone we love. We appreciate the intimacy that nonfiction can simulate— or maybe not simulate: inspire, conjure, bestow. We favor the energetic over all else. We love sentences that wander and burn before exploding in unexpected places. We love hard-earned-optimism-in-the-face-of-it-all. We want to remember your images, hours later, when we are visiting the grocery store or bakery or bank. We’d like it if you could make us laugh—we don’t often get to laugh. We want you to remind us that it is a strange and exhilarating thing to be alive. Because we sometime forget this. We sometimes worry that our spirit is calcifying, and that we are slowly being robbed—by time, by aging, by the inevitable daily accumulation of irritation and heartbreak—of our natural ability to be startled. We like being startled. We want to feel aware, and awake, and the writing we love is the writing that helps us achieve this wakefulness.
We dislike the many forces that strive to make the nonfiction landscape a forbidding and pretentious place. Which is maybe too easy a thing to say, so let me tell you what we mean by that. We dislike the essay that reeks of social-climbing, that appears to exist not because it needs to—because the author felt something so urgently that he needed to articulate and expel it— but because the author was hoping to add a publishing credit to his sweet C.V. We dislike the essay that utilizes some formal or stylistic quirk (I will shape this essay like a fish!) without addressing what we feel are important questions (why am I shaping this essay like a fish?). We dislike the cynical. We dislike the calculated. We dislike the essay-as-intellectual-exercise, a sort of literary Sudoku puzzle that we can think about, solve, and then never look at again.
Which isn’t to say that we don’t appreciate experimentation. We love Ander Monson. We love Jenny Boully. We love Will Kaufman’s “The Future is the Motherfucking Future,” which you can read in the first issue of Sundog. But we are tired—so, so tired—of the bloodless and mechanical, of experimentation without feeling. We want to feel something. We want so badly to feel something.
So make us feel something! Send us your best work—your narratives, your lyric essays, your hybrids, your whatevers. And here’s an incentive: our submission-deadline for the second issue is December 15th. If you submit a nonfiction piece before then, and include on the cover letter—along with your mailing address—a winky-faced emoticon—;-)—I’ll send you a personalized postcard from Sundog’s nonfiction headquarters in Marquette, Michigan. Act quickly/makes a great gift/just in time for the holiday season!
Anyway. We’d love to read your work. Truly. Happy October, America.