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.

Competition Delays, FSG Rejection + Cold Queries

FSG: A few days ago I got a form rejection letter from Farrar, Straus + Giroux, which, I have to admit, was a bummer. I fucking love that publishing house + I thought that BLANK would be a great fit, with its ambitious, edgy, urban, slightly conceptual, character-based thing it has going on. But this was through the slush pile, so I'm not that surprised really. So much good writing (and bad writing, for that matter) suffocates in that paper avalanche. With the right agent (that is, a great agent), all the rules get changed.

Italo Calvino Contest
: I checked the date of the notification for the Calvino Prize. It was 15 December. I sighed. I didn't win it. I wasn't even a finalist. But then I read on the University of Louisville's website that there was a delay: the winner hadn't been announced yet. So, it's still a long shot. But there's still hope + I can live on just hope + fresh water for weeks.

Phoebe Larmore
: Today, after psyching myself out for months, I made a cold call to Phoebe Larmore's office. I got her voice mail + left a message like a good mensch. Insanely, she called me back
five minutes later and we chatted for around six minutes. I liked her immediately: her voice was calm + soothing. And though one of the most successful literary agents, she was very sympathetic, smart + honest with me. Here are a few things she said:

1. Her only two clients are Margaret Atwood and Tom Robbins (gulp)

2. She has only has two clients because that's how she prefers it.

3. She encouraged me to check out Writer's Digest + look at the agent section

4. Perhaps, most beautiful + sincere, she said: Jackson, I hope you will remember to always write from the deepest part of your soul.

I promised her I would.

Then, she said she would be looking out for my writing in the future.

Please do, I said.

I'm a huge fan, Phoebe Larmore. Even bigger than before.