Monday, December 5, 2011

Relanguaging: Toward a Definition, Of Sorts and a Bird

Thanks to Jack Kaulfus's recent flash review of Curio by Lauren Ellen Scott , she read "The Brewsters", which is a really smart little thing, a delightful re-languaging romp.   What does re-languaging mean?  It's a word she just made up as a way to describe what Scott is doing.  What Scott is doing is re-languaging.  Although Scott is not the first to relanguage, "The Brewsters" is, for our purposes, a very effective example not only because it's well done, but also because it's SO very well done.

The Jumblies
Edward Lear re-languaged, too.  For an example of Lear's re-languaging (or to figure out more how she's defining this new word), read his poem "The Jumblies".  She thinks you'll find that Ellen Scott and Lear are linguistic friends.  If you enjoy "The Brewsters", then you'll definitely want to read "The Jumblies"--aloud, of course, aloud.

Re-languaging may be a synonym for Nonsense-verse, but it should be clear that relanguaging may not be set on a metered line. But! re-languaging, as a descendant of nonsense-verse, requires syncopation.

Re-languaging is to nonsense verse what early jazz was to blues.

Re-languaging may cause whimsy but the whismy may offset, or collide with, the deep questioning of reality or the suggestion that deep questioning is occurring; although, in fact, due to the effects of re-languaging, the presence of deep questioning may be more an aesthetic effect of the collision between language and meaning.  The aesthetic effect, however, can cause deep questioning in the reader.

It may be the case that re-languaging is more applicable in its use to fiction. If not, and only if, because poetry has a full dictionary of words to describe itself with, and poetry may not accept fiction that re-languages as a poetic form.  It could be argued, and likely someone will (and why not?), that "The Brewsters" is a prose poem and not flash fiction.  The argument, if proven valid, may lead to the conclusion that "The Brewsters" is not re-languaging but doing [insert poetry term].  This person who argues to such a conclusion will likely like clam chowder with a sweet potato on the side.

Re-languaging should not be, however, used as a synonym for experimental writing since experimental writing does not imply or guarantee interesting rhythm--although pieces that re-language may be defined as experimental, and the most interesting experimental writing may re-language.  See Michael Stewart's A Brief Encyclopedia of Modern Magic for an example of this, or Ben Marcus's The Age of Wire and String.  Susan Steinberg re-languages in many of the stories in The End of Free Love, but she is of the held-note variety of re-languagers.
Rain, by Marc Chagall (1911)

(Held-note relanguaging: a distant cousin of Ben Marcus and Ellen Scott, like the compromise between the two, although nothing has been compromised. Style typified by circular, rhythmic language that, as it both circles and progresses, creates a narrative.)

In visual art, re-languaging is closest to this painting by Chagall (when it is worn as a song that sits as a bird on one's heart, clutching):



Friday, November 25, 2011

Writerly Tip: Organizing Story Submissions

Her first submission log was a bag she'd sewn from a jeans pants-leg and then affixed with an iron-on image of an old-fashioned girl.  Here is where she collected all her rejection letters.  Likely the bag is still being stored by her mother, in her old bedroom, in a box full of other rejection letters and notebooks.  No doubt, for a keepsake, this is a lovely way to keep no-track-whatsoever of the writing you have submitted for publication.

Typically, she uses a spreadsheet to track the submissions.  She finds it best to keep everything as simple as possible so that she's more likely to use the log/calendar. 

Story Magazine Submission Type Notes to Self Date Replied
Every Road New Fangled Review submishmash - pdf from August 2010 folder query after four months 11-13-11, form letter, don't send again, response too quick
Every Road Next Journal email to editor, Jane Doe pays penny/word
The Snow-Cone Stand Lulu Story Contest  Contest requires e-book creation, uploaded on site mid dec results announced

She places the date submitted in the story column and highlights it.  This is also helpful for tracking the last time she did a large batch, and it's easier to compare response times of journals.  

Until a magazine rejects a story, she keeps the row in bold.
When a magazine accepts the story, she highlights the row in purple.

Why keep a submission log for writing?
  • To know when it's time to query about a submission that's been held longer than the magazine's stated response time.
  • To have the information necessary to write a professional query, e.g. I'm checking on the status of my story, "The X to the Y", which I submitted on such-and-such date.
  • If you're a gambler, to keep track of how much money drained in contest entry-fees.
  • To keep track of postage, envelopes, paper for tax purposes (or in hopes that one day these can be claimed on taxes)
  • To keep track of writing; for example, sometimes she'll subconsciously give up on a story, forget about it, then find its title in the submission calendar
  • To rally one's spirits or realize that the number of a rejections a piece of writing has had may mean you need to open it up for revision.
  • To keep track of editors - a cordial or personal note from an editor means that, even if rejected, this is a person you would want to work with in the future and, thus, to submit to again.

For an article regarding rejections, 
how to interpret them, and 
the current situation 
with online rejections, 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Human Day!

One must try not to imagine what will be served at the dinner these turkeys are going to (or what they've already eaten).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"The Skydivers" Forthcoming in Emrys Journal, Spring 2012

Emrys Journal logoEmrys Journal has accepted her story "The Skydivers" for publication in their Spring 2012 issue. This will be her first publication with Emrys.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"The Rabbit" Forthcoming in Big Pulp, March 2013

logo Big PulpHer mini-story "The Rabbit" (not to be easily mistaken with her story "Rabbits" from The Floating Order) will be published in Big Pulp in March 2013. This will be her third publication with Big Pulp, which is lovely because it's one of her favorite venues.

Pringle-Toungate's previous publications with Big Pulp are "Every Good Girl Does Fine" and "Palestine, IL".

Update 3/30/13: The Rabbit is now available to read. Click here or copy/paste this link into your browser: 

Friday, November 4, 2011

E-story Experiment: The Snow-Cone Stand

Cover The Snow-Cone Stand
With the rising popularity of e-readers, she has now and then considered self-publishing a single story. She has romantic ideas of photocopying thousands of copies of a story and dropping them on a city or handing them door to door. It's ridiculous, of course--that much paper.

Certainly, the music industry has been changed by the user's ability to download single songs, and she has wondered how that might bleed into the publishing industry--or how that might provide her a little more control, now and then, of getting her work to her readers by self-publishing a single story. She found her valid excuse with's 600-word short-story contest.

Basically, writers submit a story of 600 words or less, convert the story into an e-book, and upload it on Lulu. Later, Lulu judges will declare whatever story the winner.

The contest is not dependent on how many times the story is viewed, and she also couldn't find anything about not charging people for a contest story (so Lulu will be making money off contestants who do sell their contest entry). Regardless, she's giving her story away for free.

After taking several hours to format a tiny story, she thinks she'll go back to her old-fashioned route of letting editors do their jobs and she hers. But that doesn't mean that she wouldn't like you to have it, dear reader.

Download and read "The Snow-Cone Stand" at, iTunes, or Barnes & Noble.--Especially since she might have disqualified the story by putting an image on the cover. Ah, well.

Cover photo by Keoni Cabral,
used under a Creative Commons License

Post Update 4/20/12:

Project Retired

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Winter's Wooden Sparrows" in Lake Effect

photograph by Dirk Wustenhagen Getty Images The first time he felt a need to walk, he was a boy of six or seven. He had awoken one winter morning with the urge to be outside, alone. And so decided to go, and felt the good feeling that decisions often have. He zipped on his snowsuit, wrapped his face in his scarf, and left the house while his parents slept.

The early sun was somewhere behind the bright gray sky, and the snow was so bright he couldn't look at it without forcing himself, but he forced himself and felt the strange, pleasing feeling of snow-dazzled eyes. The snow in front of the house was not new, mussed with boot-tracks filled with gray water; but the snow in the back still followed its own created planes, on and on, untouched—and it was this that guided him to take his walk in the back. He walked and listened to the crunch of his boots and felt the cold air. A few black birds crossed the sky like a meaningless thought. Beside him trotted the ghost of the old dog that had died recently enough to still follow him.

Read the rest of "Winter's Wooden Sparrows" by Erin Pringle-Toungate in Lake Effect, due out in January 2012  Now available

Photo used from Getty Images, with permission/
Dirk Wustenhagen Imagery

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writers Run, Too

Her friend and a fellow writer, Stephanie, will be running as part of the Komen Race for the Cure in Austin, TX. To donate to the cause, via Stephanie's running shoes, follow this sentence to her donation page.

She thinks this is worthwhile. The number of graves due to breast cancer, among other cancers, is more than wearisome.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Interview Up: Fear, Halloween, and an Enchanting Talk

Erin recently sat down with her sister-in-law, Misty, via computer and across 2,000 miles, and chatted about Halloween, making stories, making childhood, making memories.

Here's an excerpt:

photo of Erin Pringle-Toungate as child Misty: Did you visit graveyards as a child? Since reading The Floating Order the first time, I have wondered if we had this in common. I'm sure my brother has told you about our adventures in graveyards prompted by our grandmother.

Erin: We lived down the road from one, and so we drove past a graveyard every day. The schoolbus took the same route. I remember my mother getting into genealogy and so that took us to graveyards, making rubbings and such. Graveyards captured my imagination. Everyone who had lived in the town had ended up in one. Then, part of the town's teenage folklore included visiting either graveyards or places where hauntings might occur in the country. I was part of the drive-out-into-the country crowd, though mostly I just heard about what would happen if you went to the bridge and did such and such. I was never very brave or popular enough to find myself very often at such "haunted' sites but would imagine what I would do were I.

But graveyards have never ceased to interest me, maybe more now since I know more people who now exist in them. So I do visit more now, though not so much the ones where I know the people whose names are on the stones. For example, the graveyard in Fredericksburg, TX is a really intersting one because of the amount of children's graves-- and that the children's graves are in their own section and many of them have metal bassinets made around them. Graveyards understand grief. I find them to be empathetic places to go.

Read the rest of the article and interview, "fear and an enchanting talk", at the blog senseMaking.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"This Bomb My Heart" in War, Literature & the Arts

logo WLA
Out in the vast field, she kneels under the wings her brother made when she lost her arm. He sawed them from a storm-fallen tree then picked a wheelbarrow of Queen Anne’s Lace from the field and ditches, spreading the stems across newspapers on the porch as their mother once had. When the flowers dried, he glued them over the boards then spray-painted the wings white. He screwed the wings to the front of his drum harness from marching band. She wore the harness backward, as she does now over her winter coat, though the wings are patchy and he’s dead.
Read the rest of "This Bomb My Heart" by Erin Pringle-Toungate in the new issue of War, Literature & the Arts (volume 23, 2011)