Every now and again, we find a way to make the newspaper gig a little more enjoyable — hence the North Bay Bohemian’s Spring Lit 2023 fiction edition. Below is my flash-fiction introduction.
After all, there was only one J-school grad among us.
The rest of the Press Club were English majors with exotic emphases like “Creative Writing” or “Choose Your Own Adventure Narratives for Neurotypical Misanthropes.” Why shouldn’t we just fill the Spring Lit edition with fiction ourselves? In the very least, it would save some hours of fact-checking.
J-school frowned and shrugged.
“Buy-in” is nuanced around here. Plausible deniability is paramount when you’re writing the rough draft of history, just in case the victors revise it later.
You see, most years, “Spring Lit” meant a stringer would knock out an 1100-word roundup of local author accolades—a victory lap about as interesting as our paper route. Hightime for a classic alt-weekly pivot, I thought. When the competitors zig, we ziggurat, because zagging would be too easy and frankly, local media could use a pyramidal temple-tower to prove it could reach an eighth-grade reading level.
“Of course, someone might not get it and accuse us of publishing fake news,” J-school said, after actually considering it.
“Fake news, taxonomically, is a mutant form of fiction, so we still have cover,” I punted, then remembered—right, the cover—what the hell do we put on the cover? Something to keep me up at night, like our ad-to-edit ratio or that publicist who snored.
I could tell J-school was simmering another bright idea, so I ginned up some cheerleading.
“And fiction—isn’t that how we explain and enrich the truth of human experience?” When in doubt, go humanistic—the brighter ones confuse it with logic. “For just one issue, what if we ditched the fact business and instead went into the truth business?”
The “truth business.” I almost bought it myself.
J-school didn’t but read the room and knew that I’d somehow landed on some clean copy.
— Daedalus Howell, editor