The Story of THEMA

OUTcoverA few years ago, before I devoted my attention towards establishing a career as a magazine feature writer and editor (and long before I’d ever thought about writing a cozy mystery novel), I dabbled in writing short-short fiction.

Also referred to as postcard stories or flash fiction, the typical length of short-short fiction ranges from 100 to 1,000 words, although there’s really no hard and fast rule; every contest and/or publication seems to have their own guidelines. But 3,000+ words it most definitely is not.

Now, there’s something scary, yet ultimately liberating, about writing short fiction. Scary, because you’ve got to tell your story under the constraints of a very limited space; liberating, because you can get the story out of your head and onto the page—without having to spend thousands of words on it.

Of course, finding a market for short stories of any length is always a challenge. I was fortunate to stumble upon THEMA, a New Orleans-based, theme-related literary journal with three goals:

  • To provide a stimulating forum for established and emerging literary and visual artists;
  • To serve as source material and inspiration for teachers of creative writing; and
  • To provide readers with a unique and entertaining collection of stories, poems, art and photography.

Now, the wonderful thing about THEMA (beyond the fact that they achieve each of their goals) is that they offer the writer three very important motivators:

  • A premise or target theme;
  • A deadline; and
  • Payment.

Will you get rich writing short stories, whether it’s for THEMA or another publication? Highly unlikely; THEMA, for example, pays $10 to $25 for poems and short stories. But to quote Erica Jong: “When I sit down at my writing desk, time seems to vanish. I think it’s a wonderful way to spend one’s life.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

To read more about THEMA, including my published short stories, check out my THEMA page under Other Works.

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