Flare: An Anthology of Chronic Illness Told in Flash Narratives

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All donations directly support the writers published in the anthology who do not opt-out of remuneration.

“I got sick the way Hemingway says you go broke: “gradually and then suddenly.”” Meghan O’Rourke ends the first paragraph of Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness with an unforgettable sentence that lands on the page with tremendous lyrical and empathetic force. It resonates with the one-third of all adults globally who occupy the wilderness of chronic illness and disability—and that was before Covid. Flash narratives about chronic illness—chronic physical and mental illness and disease, invisible and mysterious undiagnosed illness, pain, addiction, and disability—cover a wide swath of illness experiences and rely on the elements of craft that reveal compelling characters and story. Prolonged illness can leave us grappling with expressive language to convey our experiences to others. Flash constrains the enormity and generates evocative, vivid writing that resonates with emotion.

Image by Lucas Silva Pinheiro Santos and depicts a figure reflected in water texturized by rock. The figure is sharply in shadow with an arm raised overhead. There appear a swath of orange and red color over the figure.

What are our lives like with chronic disease? Our histories and identities? How do we relate to our bodies? How do we broker peace with our illness(es)? How do aspects of our lives and identities become affected by the illness experience, such as race, gender, sexuality, disability, ableism, relationships, parenting, and work? How does chronic illness influence or affect the element of creation? What about health disparities and the cultural differences, beliefs, and biases in medicine? How does chronic illness change the way we think about ethics and medicine? How does chronic illness change patient care, and how does it affect the relationships between patients and healthcare providers? With Long Covid, especially, how is chronic illness changing the way we think about sickness, sick bodies, recovery, and disability? These are a sample of the complex issues concerning chronic illness.

The definitions of chronic illness vary, and as far as this anthology is concerned, chronic illness refers to continuing and recurring conditions and hopes to reflect the evolving understanding of functional disabilities, impairment, mental illness, and complex illness. Use Your Words Carefully: What Is a Chronic Disease? is tremendously helpful in conceptualizing chronic illness.

This anthology has broad appeal and includes those who manage chronic illness, caregivers of those who live with chronic illness, writers and readers of fiction and creative nonfiction, creative writing programs, instructors and professors of creative writing and narrative medicine, physicians, healthcare and mental healthcare professionals, lawmakers and legal professionals, nonprofits, and policymakers.

Those who occupy this wilderness are invited to submit fiction, creative nonfiction, and hybrid prose to 750 words about the experience of chronic illness for publication in Flare: An Anthology of Chronic Illness Told in Flash Narratives, compiled and edited by April Bradley and published by Ad Hoc Fiction.

All contributors receive $10.00, a PDF of the completed anthology, and may purchase copies from the Ad Hoc Fiction online bookshop at a 35% discount.

See April’s interview about the anthology with Jude Higgins, publisher of Ad Hoc and The Bath Flash Fiction Award.

Submission Guidelines: 

  • 750-word count maximum and up to three short-form narratives —fiction, creative nonfiction, and hybrid prose—may be submitted in a single document. Titles are excluded from the word count.
  • There is no need to designate or describe a genre in your cover letter.
  • Please format your document in a Times New Roman 12-point font (unless it interferes with the aesthetic of a hybrid submission) with only the title and submission text—no personal information, page numbers, or word count.
  • Previously unpublished submissions, reprints, and previously unpublished and reprinted translations are welcome from all writers everywhere over age 18; however, preference is given to previously unpublished work.
  • Please submit work in English only.
  • In the case of translations, please include permission from the copyright holder.
  • Simultaneous submissions are permitted. Please withdraw your submission promptly if it is accepted elsewhere for publication.
  • Collaborations welcome!
  • Submissions are free. If you wish to donate, your generosity will benefit the contributors and help with the cost of production. Please see the Donation category on the previous page. 
Thanks to Bartleby Snopes & RUBY for the use of their Submittable account.

Summary of Rights: Contributors grant six months of exclusive rights, then non-exclusive rights to reproduce, publish, distribute, transmit, sell, promote, translate, and sublicense all formats of the anthology and the anthology manuscript in all languages throughout the world. Non-exclusive rights revert to the contributors six months after the official publication date of the anthology. This means that you cannot publish the accepted piece elsewhere without permission (which will not be unreasonably withheld) for the period from acceptance to six months after publication.

Data Collection Disclosure: When you submit work for consideration for publication in this anthology through Submittable, it collects your email address and name. If accepted, and if you electronically sign an agreement in Submittable, the platform additionally collects your mailing address—should you provide one—payment method information, and a short biography. Your name and email address may be used for prize nominations and in communications with the editor and publisher.

Contact April at chronicillnessanthology@gmail.com with inquiries.

Donations To Date

August 2022 $4.50

September 2022 $4.50

October 2022 $5.40

November 2022 $34.20

December 2022 $20.70