Good Rejection from the Indiana Review

Dear Jackson Bliss:

Thank you for sending these three shorts to Indiana Review. We really enjoyed them, particularly "Cabrón"—the voice is well honed and the story is compelling—but ultimately found them not right for IR at this time. Please take this short email as a note of encouragement to continue sending us work.

Best wishes,

R***** L***
Fiction Editor
Indiana Review

Even though I always appreciate editors taking the time to send me a good a response, I always wonder: If a story had such a well-honed voice + was so compelling, why don't you want the story? I mean, personally, if I thought a story had a well-honed voice + was compelling + I really enjoyed it, why the hell wouldn't I want to publish it? Did I lose out to the group vote? Did the IR receive other manuscripts where the voice was better honed and more compelling? Was it just a question of personal taste + style? Who the fuck really knows, man. I'm flattered, but I'm also pissed off.

Rejections, Meet Undaunted Writer

I'm not gonna pretend I wasn't disappointed with my recent rash of rejections from the Indiana Review, Ploughshares, One Story, Crazyhorse, New South, Colorado Review + the Calvino Prize where I wasn't even a finalist (ah yes, licking my wounds from that one).

But yo, rejection is the name of the game in this industry. Rejection is the rule + acceptance is always the beautiful exception. We all know that. And since I still have other manuscripts on the burner, really, it doesn't get me down too much. Sure, I get snarly + pissed off sometimes. I frequently tell fiction readers + editors to fuck off out loud when I get rejections, but I also know it's not personal. People are controlled by both aesthetic preferences + taste. We pretend it's about literary merit, but mostly it's about what we like.

Anyway, to appropriate SC's slogan, I'm gonna fight on motherfuckers. I'm a talented writer like thousands of other fiction writers in this country, but I'm also fiercely determined. Stubborn too. And I'm just gonna keep on writing, submitting, revising. Though I only got 3 stories accepted in 2009, they were also my best pick-ups since I started submitting short stories to journals. And recent submissions to the Missouri Review, Quarterly West, BOMB, Witness, Alaska Quarterly Review, Quarter Past 8, Mid-American Review, Threepenny Review, Black Warrior Review, North American Review + Harper'
s helps keep the faith alive. I write big, I dream big + I submit big. And every now + then, these three worlds converge for a brief moment.

Rejections, come again, son. I remain battle-tested + undaunted by you.

New Wave of Submissions for Fall 2008

Because talent isn't enough in the world of lit. fiction, I've submitted manuscripts (self-contained novel chapters, short stories and lyrical essays) to the following journals for Fall 2008 (electronically, of course):

McSweeney's, One Story, Nimrod, 9th Letter, Indiana Review, Black Warrior Review Fiction Contest, Meridian, Virginia Quarterly Review, 3rd Coast, Ploughshares, Emerson Review, The Literary Review, Sentence, Quick Fiction, A Public Space, The Kenyon Review, Cimarron Review, AGNI, The Baltimore Review, Witness + The New South.

Should I expect more heartache and agonizingly long wait periods, followed by a storm of rejection letters and a bunch of generic form emails based more on taste than technique? Of course. Do I think my odds are slim to none that most of these journals will pick up something of mine? Yes, I do. Do I still have the same naive hope that this time things will be different? Of course. Please read my Writing Is A Viral Entry if you want to know why. Will I let the staggering odds against me prevent me from slowly developing my fiction career? Absolutely not.

See, this is my attitude: I already know that I'm a gifted fiction writer. I'm just waiting for the rest of publishing world to figure this out. In the meantime, I'm going to keep paying my dues and continue improving as a new voice in fiction until I can finally get editors to see my talent. Yes, it's difficult. But I knew this going into it.

The Link between Domestic Chores + Manuscript Submissions

Yesterday i was in this crazy mood so i:

1. changed the lightbulbs in the bathroom
2. re-organized the strange pile of recycling bags
3. recharged LB's iPod so she'd have tunes for our run
4. washed all the dishes
5. prepped 13 new manuscripts (e.g. fiction and CNF)
6. made the bed
7. sent off my 13 new manuscripts to 13 journals, including Elle, Esquire, The Yale Review, Indiana Review, 4th Genre, Michigan Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Epoch & Black Warrior Review, among others

At the post office, the clerk and i started chatting and she wanted to read some of my fiction, which was really flattering, so i told her to look up my STAND piece and my WRITERS POST JOURNAL piece, even though they won't be ready forever. it was so nice.

Today, par contre, i finally did something i've wanted to do since graduation in may. i submitted my novel BLANK to mcsweeney's press. i'm sure it will take them forever to get back to me, but as long as they read the whole thing--as if, kid--i'm cool with that. so now my novel is under editorial and agent consideration at simon & schuster, grand central and mcsweeney's, and yo, i couldn't be happier!

Sidenote: sometimes i can be random. i was just about to shave and take a shower, and then, the next thing i know, i'm composing a cover letter to the book submissions editor at mcsweeney's and writing this blog in my boxer shorts. what is going on with my mind?

4 Things in the Writerly World I Have to Deal with, Now + Always

1. I got a great rejection from indiana review, but to be honest, it hurt so much i almost wish i hadn't received it. it said:

Jackson, we really seriously considered this piece, i admired the ambition, energy, scope--a fun read for sure. ultimately, however, we couldn't place it. please do try us again in the future. all best, megan savage, fiction editor.

I appreciate Megan taking the time to write that, that was supercool of her. but to know you were so close, and then not picked, i have to say, it hurts alot more in a way. for hours afterwards, i'd feel fine, and then i'd remember that rejection letter and get depressed. despite my modest publication history, i still haven't penetrated the elite paper literary journal market yet, and to be honest, i don't know why. it's just like in jack london's martin eden, the rejections feel as arbitrary as the acceptances. it doesn't matter that that taste corrupts technical estimation, i just think it's about time my stories starting hitting the airwaves so to speak. universe : i'm ready. me : are you?

2. Compare this to the one-size-fits-all rejection letter i got from harper's today, which was so impersonal it was funny, but hey, it didn't hurt at all. it was like being rejected by the wrong magazine, like being rejected by a spammer, like reading someone else's mail.

3.The date for my reading at Notre Dame is now officially 6 february. can't wait to hit the mic. wish i had the cajones to wear a leisure suit with rhinestones. But because I don't, here's my Arts Everywhere Blurb instead:

4. I'm halfway done with my master novel revision. it's taking longer than i anticipated.

Literary Journals

Here are the journals that have sent me rejections recently:

The Seattle Review
The Hudson Review
Kenyon Review

And yet, after collecting enough rejection slips to pad my entire apartment with, I feel good about my writing. Call it delusion.

Recent journals I've submitted to are:

One Story
Indiana Review
Our Stories
Double Room
The Missouri Review
Tin House
Mcsweeney's online
OV Book anthology
Quarterly West
Black Warrior Review
Iowa Review
Story Quarterly

Really, these journals are out of my league. not because of talent, but because i'm lucky if readers look at more than one paragraph, but that's fine because i believe in apprentissage. and i feel like things will work out, and when they do, and when they have, i appreciate it even more.