I Must Look Back--Looking Back at 2016

It's been a busy year. Sometimes I kind of feel like the tower in that picture to the right, drowing in stuff to do. This is one reason you haven't seen much from me here at I Must Be Off! apart from the wildly successful annual travel writing competition. I'm so glad and frankly stunned that so many people around the world sent in their adventures this year--647 to be exact. The Top 18 stories are of course here at I Must Be Off! Stop by and read them anytime. They'll be here. And they'll continue to be amazing.

I've been traveling, and I've been writing. Somehow, though, I haven't found the time to write about my travels. I Must Be Off! began as a way to keep up with my travels so that I never forget where I've been and what I've learned from being there. So far this year, I've learned that I'm embarrassingly forgetful. Even now I'm having a hard time remembering where I've been this year. Last Monday I returned from a trip to the Caribbean. Let's start there.

"Is hurricane season over?" I ask to no one in particular. Unsurprisingly no answer comes. I could have Googled it, but I didn't.

So we set off for Miami from Munich via Berlin. It's sunny and warm in Miami. It's Veteran's Day, and there's a parade at Miami Beach. It's a poorly attended affair. And that somehow feels right. Why on earth do we celebrate war? I get it that we should respect the sacrifice of those who served in the military, and we should certainly mourn the dead and provide assistance to their survivors. A parade feels like the wrong sort of tribute to these people. I wish we knew more exactly why the United States goes to war in the first place, or for that matter why anyone does. My companions and I walk away from the parade. The Germans I'm with don't understand what's going on. They see the whole thing as cheap and demeaning. And I have to agree.

The AIDA cruise we're on stops in Port Canaveral for the Kennedy Space Center, which is worth a visit, San Juan (Puerto Rico), which is also worth a visit. Then we stop in St. Thomas, Cayo Levantado (Dominican Republic), and Nassau (Bahamas)--none of which are worth a visit. There is so much trash on the beach of Cayo Levantado that AIDA gives everyone on the excursion half their money back. Magens Beach on St. Thomas is supposed to be one of the best beaches in the world. Really? Who makes these lists? First of all, you have to pay to enter, and then it's just a tiny, completely normal beach with a bad-food snack stand and bar. It has a summer camp feel to it that does not say "Best Beach in the World". Nassau is an ugly place jammed with souvenir shops and fried fish for everyone. But at least the Kennedy Space Center was great.

And before the Caribbean we were in Italy, Spain, Greece, Croatia and of course Ireland, which we left permanently in April. If my life slows down a bit in the coming days, I'll write a bit about The Way of the Gods near Naples, Italy.

I have been writing, and in 2016 I've been fortunate to have several stories published. If you have time, I'd be so grateful for you to read them. Most of them were published in online journals, so they are free to read. Reading them sends these journals traffic, and they love (and deserve) traffic. Thank you to the editors who chose and published the following stories:

Fred's Massive Sorrow -- Eclectica Magazine's 20th-Anniversary Speculative Anthology (print), Nominated for storySouth's Million Writers Award

My Little Cuckoos -- Literal Latté, Third Place in K. Margaret Grossman Fiction Award

The Air Between Us -- Juked

The Guy I Used to Date -- FRiGG

What I Need to Tell the People on the Train -- FRiGG

Everything We Had -- The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Nominated for Best Small Fictions

Target Practice -- Chicago Literati

My Boy Winston -- Blue Fifth Review: Blue Five Notebook Series

Wile E. -- r.kv.r.y quarterly literary journal

Everything that Matters in Life and Death -- Jersey Devil Press

To Carry Her Home -- forthcoming in the Bath Flash Fiction Anthology (December 2016), shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award

Again, thank you so much to the editors of these journals.

It's been an eventful year, and it's not over. I wish you all a relaxing, stress-free holiday time. I'll be off to Israel, and I hope to have time to share my adventure with you. 

I must be off,


Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Juked, Eclectica Magazine's 20th-Anniversary Speculative anthology, Indiana Review, FRiGG, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and over a hundred other great places. Read his book reviews in [PANK], Necessary Fiction, Word Riot, The Lit Pub, and others. His creative non-fiction has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Bootsnall Travel, and lots of other fine places. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net, the storySouth Million Writers Award, and the Pushcart Prize. He is the 2015 recipient of Ginosko Literary Journal's award for flash fiction and in 2016 took third place in the K. Margaret Grossman fiction award given by Literal Latté. Allen is the managing editor of SmokeLong Quarterly.


  1. Congratulations for a full, successful year, Christopher! :)

  2. Another fine entry, Mr. Allen. You'd better be sending these out to travel mags. Or I'll get angry.


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