There’s something fishy in the water. Something that glitters, but which may not be gold. Calum Kerr, heroic mastermind behind the National Flash Fiction Day(didn’t we have a great time in Carlisle at Merienda? We sure did! And we’re going to have another on 20th of June too!) has got himself into murky water, or was he pushed?

Now Calum, whom I’ve never met, nor know anything about, other than that he set up the entire nffd shindig, nor am related to, as far as I know, and we adoptees, or little Bs as we’re sometimes known, can never be sure where that sort of thing is concerned, he had the temerity to put up a flash fiction of his own on the Flash Fiction Journal website. This great little site ran for the whole twenty four hours of the nffd, and managed to put up more flash fictions than you can shake a stick at (under EC regulations, I think). Calum put his first. It’s a good story. He put one of mine up second. I hope that’s a good story too! (read this in Kowalski’s voice. If you don’t know Kowalski’s voice, go on You Tube and find out about it. Buy a book of it, from Unbound Press, if you can! OK?) So, some guy, whose name I can’t remember, takes exception to this. It isn’t the story so much. It’s the abuse of process gets his goat. He can have his goat for me. Its the ‘vanity publishing’ of it gets his goat too. That’s an unlucky goat. Did you ever read my story Goat on A Rope? That was an even unluckier goat, but let’s stick ta the goatless guy’s goat before we get goatherded down some sidetrack.

This business of vanity publishing is worth a moment. I mean, who published for any other reason? Samuel Johnson, that’s who. He says a man who writes for anything other than money is a ‘blockhead’. SO there. But, where’s the money coming from? Why, even the most prestigious magazines (and I read a really good piece on the concept of prestige (Daniel Boorstin – The Image, a History of Pseudo Events in America, circa 1966 but still as fresh as a daisy) recently. (You should take a look, if you can track a copy down!), even the most prestigious magazines mostly can’t wipe their own noses without putting their sticky hands in the pockets of working people who wouldn’t be spending their money that way if it hadn’t been removed by ways of taxes. Taxes, not taxis. Poetry is a regular loss-leader. The end of the day, someone else chooses to publish your stuff only means they rate it – and that might be mistaken, or for the aspect of it you like least, or didn’t mean to put in, or because they don’t know french fries from wood chips. Being published under a subsidised regime is a spurious sort of economy, and so is being paid less than the National Minimum Wage, pro-rata. What’s left is vanity. On the other hand, vanity is just another shade of humility; it depends on the light you see it in. Metemeric. (Do you know Sue and Jim? Sure, I met ’em Eric). You have to be married to a textile designer, or a dictio-maniac to get jokes like that.

Now this guy, whose having a go, he tells us he’s won prizes, for his poetry. Never listen to a guy who tells you he’s won prizes for his poetry – and watch out for the ones who say they’ve won ’em for the vegetables. I know these guys. Tell you what, you ever heyah me telling you I’ve won prizes for my poetry, ya gotta know, I’m going to tell you something next I don’t have the least amount a faith in – that’s why I’m throwing the prizes into the pot. Stands to reason.

Let’s look at the abuse of process thing. Seems to me Calum Kerr is like a man proposing a toast. He’s saying, hey, let’s have a celebration of the genre. Now, that would be mighty strange if’n he wasn’t going to take a sip too. And for us to criticise him for it, why that’s just downright churlish. You see something in the water, looks like it might be gold, watch out in ain’t something fishy…

like a Carp.

I just had it on my mind ta tell y’awl that!