For the last fifteen years, Backhand Stories has published new short stories, flash fiction, non-fiction and essays by new and unpublished writers. The blog is currently on an indefinite hiatus, but will continue highlighting the many pieces that have been published over this time. Please read them, enjoy and share!

Archive for the ‘Essays’ Category

Let Me Be There By Amber Wey

Watching you grow, and going through the changes in your life. That’s how I know; I always wanna be there. Whenever you feel you need a friend to lean on, here I am Whenever you call, you know I’ll be there Olivia Newton John ‘Let Me Be There’ I was in a deep comfortable sleep when I woke up to loud pounding coming from upstairs. My heart pounded in perfect symmetry with each step coming closer and closer to my room. The last few steps stomping down the stairs where like an eternity, time became still, my thoughts became numb, and everything was in slow motion. As my mother turned the door knob to my room, I slowly glanced at… Continue >>

The Britney Bubble by Thomas Sullivan

When your personal income for the year is $542, with $500 of that total coming from a tax write-off for donating a car to charity, you obviously have time to consider the world around you. You read a lot and start to notice patterns emerging in the culture you inhabit. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can wear you down. It may be better just to focus on yourself – as Warren Zevon sang shortly before his death “It’s the land of the brave and the home of the free…the less you know the better off you’ll be.” The cover of the magazine staring back at me is completely filled with a photo of Britney Spears face. The… Continue >>

Good Writing. No Good For This Writer by Nancy Hatten

Read. Read a lot. Read award winning fiction, critically praised non-fiction, the best in whatever genre you wish to write yourself. These suggestions abound in writing magazines, and are dispensed by people who know something about the craft of writing. The intention is to flood your brain with wonderful word choices and beautiful phrasing in the hopes that your own writing will follow suit. Initially I embraced this advice. I was glad to have any excuse to indulge myself in more time spent reading. The more I read the more I wanted to read, and I even began to read books in genres I had formerly avoided in order to stretch my writing in new directions. I had not yet… Continue >>

Thought Wrangling by Robert Bradeen

Bob lit up a smoke, and wondered what was next. He had been sitting there all day in front of the computer, pretending to do other things, putting off actually having to be creative. Which was strange considering, the thing he desired most was to be truly creative. The problem wasn’t so much a lack of decent ideas and experience to draw from, but more the ability to cleanly extract just one of those ideas at a time. Perish the notion of actually organizing the cacophony of thoughts and images in his head into some sort of coherent story. His thoughts were a very close-knit and protective herd. If he managed to pluck one, it wasn’t long before the pack… Continue >>

The I of the Storm by Randy Kohl

The blizzard commenced in earnest sometime between the appetizer and desert. My wife and I emerged into a snow-globe world where the flakes came down in clots as large as rabbit tails. The fresh snow erased the imperfections in a still-transforming area of the south Loop, painting the cracked sidewalks and vacant lots with a coat of temporary innocence. We leaned together in a human teepee for support, Jill because she was wearing high-heel boots and was five months pregnant and me because of the bottle of wine. Jill had wet her lips with the Zinfandel to toast our anniversary and I had felt compelled to finish the remaining four and a half glasses before the check. The result was… Continue >>

First Contact by Koe Whitton-Williams

Our child, Jilly Nines, will be starting kindergarten in September and last night we participated in our first parent’s night at school. We, and about eighty other parents, met the principal, the school psychologist, all five kindergarten teachers, the administrative director, two first grade teachers, the librarian, the art teacher, the physical education teacher, the night custodian, the director of the PTA, the PTA fund-raising coordinator, the director of bi-lingual education, the director of transportation, the speech pathologist, the director of the PTA communications office, four teacher’s aides and someone else. Almost all of the teachers were endowed with a charming, youthful silhouette. None looked like they could deliver the thunderous reprimands of the Sister Christopher of my youth. The… Continue >>

Avocation Calling by Peggy Duffy

A few years ago, when I taught English Composition at a community college, one of the first essays I’d assign students was “The Transaction” by William Zinsser. In the essay, Zinsser writes about a doctor who has recently begun to write and has experienced some publishing successes. He compares his way of working with the way the doctor works. Zinsser points out that to him, a professional writer, writing is a vocation, while to the doctor, it is an avocation. The assignment of the term “avocation” implies the doctor will never be taken seriously as a writer. At least that’s the impression I always came away with each time I re-read the essay in preparation for discussing it with a… Continue >>