The Spaces in Between

The period between March and June has always been, and will probably always be, a dramatic time in my life.  Most of the best (and also worst) news I've received is during this time frame.  For example:

1.  Winning the Sparks Prize

2.  Getting rejected from the JET program (for being too old)

3.  Getting accepted into SC's PhD program in Literature and Creative Writing

4.  Hearing back from all the tenure track jobs you applied to, where they gush about what an insanely large and especially talented pool of candidates there were, which made their job especially difficult

5.  Seeing my short story on Tin House's website

6.  Getting accepted in Notre Dame's MFA program

7.  Visiting Rome, Hong Kong, Macau, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Tokyo, and London

8. Finding out whether I'm getting (re)hired at UC Irvine after an exhaustive application process

9.  Getting married to LB, something I never thought I'd do and something I never wanted to do until we fell in love

This list could go on.  If we were at a café, this list would go on.  But the point is, shit always goes down this quarter.  Sometimes, it's bad.  Usually though, it's good.  But it's always crazy enlightening (and crazy dramatic too).  So, it's with immense curiosity (and slight trepidation) that I wait to hear the state of the world for me in 2016.  Stay tuned, people.  Shit could get crazy.


David Mura Writes Back

I wrote David Mura a few weeks ago, author of recent poetry collection Angels of the Burning + novel Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire (Coffee House Press), among other books, telling him I really admired/loved Where the Body Meets Memory + that I was planning on using part of it in the critical component of my dissertation I've been working on at SC.  Anyway, I'm included part of his response which he kindly sent me:

Dear Jackson

Thanks so much for your kind words about my work. It means a lot to me that someone like you is taking an interest in and writing about WTBMM. Your dissertation sounds like an interesting and exciting project (I have a friend who's also doing a dissertation combining scholarly and creative writing although her committee only allowed a chapter for the creative writing) . . .

Good luck with your work, and yes, if your novel is published, do hit me up for a blurb.

Good luck with your work.


Putting Myself Out There because I Have to

Becoming an emerging writer is a Quixotic, blunt, heart-breaking delusion where art is actually more like head trauma than vocation. Personally, I recommend people stay away from the fallout as much as possible. Even so, I've got it bad for writing, so I'm a hopeless case. You may not be.

Anyway, I've proven this before, but like I said, I don't know how to fucking listen. Which is why I'm setting myself up for heartache again. It's how you put yourself out there, you enter contests + hope you come back with the biggest stuffed panda at the state carnival. Eventually someone does, why the fuck shouldn't it be you? Besides, I have to do this: This is how writers do: They put their asses on the line again and again for some whimsical, half-finished idea + you know, it's absolutely fucking worth it too, even with all of the drama, rejection + nausea. It's worth it. We have to write, we can't stop the dream, even when it's turned dark + beastly and demented and sore, it doesn't matter. We have to write + so we do. And when we've got something, eventually we decide it's time to find our audience, which is all publishing really is.

So I sent out some new full + partial manuscripts to a few great, indie presses in the East Coast + entered several contests too. I mean, if we're going to do this, then let's do it all the fucking way, no compromising, nothing half-assed, nothing guaranteed, the opposite of evasion, shyness + silence. Let's do this, the voice inside my head tells me.

Here are some recent book submissions:

1. The Ninjas of My Greater Self (James Jones First Novel Contest) 28 April 2011

A Travel Guide to the Broken World (Coffee House Press) 29 April 2011

A Travel Guide to the Broken World (Flannery O'Connor Award) 23 May 2011

4. BLANK excerpt (Beacon Press) 3 June 2011

A Travel Guide to the Broken World (FSG) 3 June 2011

A Travel Guide to the Broken World (Drue Heinz Literature Prize) 20 June 2011

7. A Travel Guide to the Broken World (Milkweed Editions) 5 July 2011

And of course I'm waiting to hear from Irene Goodman, the literary agent that solicited a whole manuscript of BLANK + the outline of Ninjas, I'm waiting to hear from Electric Literature for almost a year, waiting to hear from McSweeney's for 8 months, waiting to hear from the Paris Review, Black Warrior Review, Fence, waiting to hear from the Chicago Review for 13 months now (including 2 ignored emails I sent them), but I'm still going strong. I have absolutely nothing suggesting I'm going to win shit, nothing suggesting I'm gonna get a new piece published in a new journal anytime soon, but I'm good + I'm strong. Something is gonna work out, something is happening, if nothing else, momentum. If nothing else, some fucking momentum.