Lightning Key Review is open to all genres and seeks great work that grounds itself primarily in narrative: traditional, experimental, lyrical, pataphysical—just so the writing is powerful and no longer than 700 words. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Lightning Key Review: Kurt Wilt and I had started a writers' group in Tampa that met under the philosophy of short, imagistic narratives regardless of genre. Everyone brought in a page of work, and that's what we emphasized because we write that way ourselves and love that kind of writing.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
LKR: We look for short, imagistic narratives. Pretty simple. Narrative doesn't have to mean full-blown story though. We're game for looser, even lyrical narratives. There has to be a hint of a story though. The imagery has to be strong throughout. And the length is just for the sake of time. It's hard to read long pieces on-line. Plus, we both like the form of the flash narrative and the prose poem and, of course, poetry.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
LKR: Work that doesn't have its feet on the ground. We all have feelings and theories and philosophies, but when those are unmoored from anything physical in a piece of writing, my brain just turns off and I'm not reading much more.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
LKR: Not normally. It's not out of a sense of coldness but one of finality. If we rejected a piece, it's because we didn't think it worked. That's hugely arbitrary and subjective, but they call it "submission" for a reason. I write and get rejected and feel a tinge of pain when it happens just like everyone else. If we made comments, it might give false hope to a writer whose work did not gel with our aesthetic. I think that rejection is an important concept to grasp and then let go of. Sometimes people won't like your work, and there's not much you can do to convince them otherwise. In fact, it'd almost be worse if you did because you're cheating your work. The work should do the convincing. The upside to this is that sometimes I like a piece for arbitrary reasons and accept it. No one asks why when you accept a piece because the writer assumes correctly you liked something in there. The same is true for rejection. Keep submitting it. Someone else out there might have a place for it. We are by no means the ultimate authority in quality, but we know what we like.
SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be and why?
LKR: Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O'Connor, and maybe James Thurber. I think they all have a unique perspective on the absurd. I'd stand a chance for a good drink with Thurber and Vonnegut there. O'Connor would chastise everyone. Actually I think they'd probably hate each other, and I'd be caught in the middle with a forlorn expression on my face, dodging withering comments. I'm not sure if they ever did meet since they overlap a bit, but I can't see them getting along too well. Still to be a fly on the wall, even an insulted fly...
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
LKR: Nothing I can think of. Thanks!
Thank you, Patrick and Kurt. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.