New Writing: The Red Mug in Compass Literary Journal

I am delighted to announce that a piece of short fiction I wrote, The Red Mug, has been published by Compass Literary Journal and you can read it online. This is the fifth story of the collection to be published and the fourth story to be published that began its life during my stint at the Playa Summer Lake residency in 2012. I’ve said it before, mostly as a joke, but now I’m beginning to take it seriously: There is some serious creative mojo emanating from that place.

Here’s the inspiration for the story. I once owned a red mug. It was my writing mug. I had it throughout the 1990s, and I was so attached to it that I took it with me to Washington State where I did my first artist residency  in 2001. If it’s possible to love an inanimate object, then I loved this red mug.  At the end of that residency I had a feeling that I should leave it in my studio. I felt like this idea came from the mug. It had served me well and now, it told me, it was time to spread its magic to the artists who would be in that studio after me. So I left it there, without remorse and with some pride.

You should stop here if you haven’t read the story but plan to.

This is a rare instance when I don’t have anyone to thank for helping me out with my work. I didn’t give it to anyone to read for feedback or comments. I had the latest draft  on my computer and read it on the plane to Arizona a couple of weeks ago. I thought all it needed were a few small changes. I made those and submitted it to Compass the first day I was at Arcosanti, one day before their submission deadline. What drew me to Compass? Their mission statement includes this sentence: “We as a magazine aim to explore how individuals experience and articulate loss (whether in their lives or others).” Oh yes, the collection is very much about loss.

Okay, really, don’t read any more if you haven’t read the story. 

This is now my favorite coffee mug, used on days when I'm doing my work.
This is now my favorite coffee mug, used on days when I’m doing my work.


Okay, here’s the rest of the story.

In 2004 my mother died. Six months later I was kind of pulling it together. Still numb, but not crying all the time and not terribly depressed. One afternoon I went to a Bed, Bath & Beyond shopping for I don’t remember what and I came upon shelf after shelf of that brand of mug, same style, multiple colors, blue mugs, white mugs, black mugs, green mugs, yellow mugs, and red mugs.

I stood in front of them, paralyzed and overwhelmed by a sense of loss. Not only of my mother, but of myself.  I felt like my life had gone off the tracks, though I couldn’t say how or why or when, and that the person I was,  the person who was creative, funny, smart, curious, the person who had so much potential, that person was gone. Gone forever.

It was part of my grieving and it seemed right for this character in the collection to have a similar experience.

Thankfully in my case, that person was not gone forever.

Other stories in the collection:

There Is Joy before the Angels of God 


Other Leevilles

12-Bar Blues (Sorry this one is not online.  You’d have to buy it from the publisher, Pilgrimage)

Want still more writing?

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What’s A Life’s Work about? It’s a documentary about people engaged in projects they won’t see completed in their lifetimes. You can find out more on this page.

We recently ran a crowdfunding campaign and raised enough to pay an animator and license half of the archival footage the film requires. We need just a bit more to pay for licensing the other half of the archival footage, sound mixing, color correction, E&O insurance and a bunch of smaller things. When that’s done, the film is done! It’s really very VERY close!

So here’s how you can help get this film out to the world. It’s very simple: click the button…

Donate Now!

… and enter the amount you want to contribute (as little as $5, as much as $50,000) and the other specifics. That’s it. No login or registration required. Your contribution does not line my pocket; because the film is fiscally sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, all money given this way is overseen by them and is guaranteed to go toward the completion of this film. Being fiscally sponsored also means that your contribution is tax-deductible. So why not do it? The amount doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you’re helping to bring a work of art into the world. And that, I think, is really exciting!

Questions? Email me at d a v i d ( aT } b l o o d o r a n g e f i l m s {d o t] c o m[/color-box]


4 Replies to “New Writing: The Red Mug in Compass Literary Journal”

  1. Wonderful story both in the magazine and on your blog post. I loved both. Articulating loss can be so hard to express clearly when you’re in the thick of it, but when done well, like your piece, it says everything to anyone.

  2. Ciao David. Me again lol.
    I really liked it and sensed the humor, and the pain. As I age (45 at the end of this month) I truly understand how youth is wasted on the young! But gone forever are we really? Or are we closer to our true selves when not distracted with the frivolities of our youth?

    1. Hi Momiska,

      No, not gone forever. But at that moment, that is what I felt.

      But also, in a way, that person WAS gone forever. I once heard someone say you’re not really an adult until your parents die. And I think there’s some truth to that. It is a transformative event. And the old self doesn’t go away, but grows in a way that would be almost unrecognizable to old self

      Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it!



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