Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let not your imagination plague you--send me stories instead!

From Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy:
For as the body works upon the mind by his bad humours, troubling the spirits, sending gross fumes into the brain, and so per consequens disturbing the soul, and all the faculties of it . . . with fear, sorrow, etc., which are ordinary symptoms of this disease: so, on the other side, the mind most effectually works upon the body, producing by his passions and perturbations miraculous alterations, as melancholy, despaire, cruel diseases, and sometimes death itself. . . . What imagination I have is sufficiently declared in my digression of the anatomy of the soul. I will only now point at the wonderful effects and power of it; which as it is eminent in all, so most especially it rageth in melancholy persons, in keeping the species of objects so long, mistaking, amplifying them by continual and strong meditation, until at length it produceth in some parties real effects, causeth this and many other maladies.
Attention Chicagoans! If your imagination produceth such real effects and maladies, it no longer need do so in vain: I've taken the position of Chicago editor for Joyland, an online hub for short fiction, and my mailbox is now open for submissions! In the face of the perennial gloom and doom about the short story, Joyland is an effort to try something new, and I'm excited to be part of it. Joyland is organized by city, with each editor responsible for stories from residents (or former residents) of his or her city; authors already published there include Joe Meno, Ed Park, Nathan Sellyn, Rebecca Rosenblum, and more. I'll be posting one story a month or so, and I'm open at this point to pretty much any style or theme. So if you've had a story percolating in your brain, disrupting your sleep and bringing despaire, drop me a line and I'll be happy to give you more information.

For if, as Montaigne agrees, the imagination can be a troubling possession--
Wee sweat, we shake, we grow pale, and we blush at the motions of our imaginations; and wallowing in our beds we feele our bodies agitated and turmoiled by their apprehensions, yea in such manner as we are sometimes ready to yeeld up the spirit.
--you might as well get some good short stories out of it, right?

And now to find the place in The Anatomy of Melancholy where Burton explains the melancholy that can be caused by taking on too many responsibilities . . .


  1. Hmm. This isn't quite what I was looking for, but here's Montaigne on the opposite of over-commitment--idleness:

    "The mind that has no established aim loses itself; for as the saying goes, to be everywhere is to be nowhere."

  2. Accepting a siesta during last week's holiday, I pondered the depths and daring implications of having Burton's Anatomy and Montaigne's Essays as my sole nourishment for a week. Depending on the election (and the then potential need for liquid refreshment/consolation)I may attempt such next month during my break.

  3. Great! Always looking for new venues for my stories, especially local (or locally-curated) ones. Do you have a word count limit? I know shorter is usually better for online.

  4. Jon,
    Though I love both Burton and Montaigne, I don't know that I would have the stamina to live only with them for a week. But oh, what it would do for your sentences!

    I don't have a definite word count in mind. Most of the stories that the other editors have posted have been relatively short--you can go check them out at the site--because that seems to fit the format best. But I wouldn't rule out a story on length alone; something good enough to be published is worth trying to accommodate somehow.

    Oh, and the stories don't have to be about Chicago, just by someone who lives or has lived in Chicago.