Next Summer, I Will Do Nothing Except Watch Romance Anime and Munch on Senbē Crackers

This post is written from a place of privilege to a certain degree.  While my lecturer position isn't as good as a tenure track job, my workload, bennies, and pay at UC Irvine, are a hundred times better than that of my friends adjuncting their hearts out, hoping and praying (just as I am) that one day they'll get the ideal academic gig.  So, I write this post with a tiny amount of guilt, understanding that things could be so much worse.  That said, I was lucky enough to have my first paid summer off as an academic and It's honestly shocking how busy I was in like a good way.  Yes, I wrote the fuck out of this summer, completely restructuring and rewriting my first and second novels multiple times.  Yes, I sent out query letters for AMNESIA to a few agents that I thought might be good matches.  Yes, I sent out several different manuscripts to several stellar indie presses, including my experimental memoir.  Yes, I read more than a few novels and several graphic novels too.  Yes, LB and I traveled to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Tallinn, which was honestly, one of the most amazing vacations I've ever had (I'm completely broke right now and I don't give a shit because it was completely worth it!).  Yes, I got to see both our families, which was amazing (not to mention insanely draining).  And yes, I played the shit out of my PS4 because I finally could after teaching for 9 months straight.  For the record, I was especially captivated by The Last of Us, Final Fantasy X, Infamous Second Son, and The Walking Dead.  In so many ways, I had one of the best summers of my life and I don't say that lightly.

But that said, this summer was also completely exhausting.  Time flew by in a way I haven't seen since high school and often I felt like I was barely in control of my life.  I wouldn't have done it differently and I have only gratitude for this summer, but next summer, I think I'm gonna make as little plans as possible.  At the very least, I plan on living like a minimalist.  I hope to do nothing except eat nori senbē crackers, drink ocha, and watch romance anime.  Maybe I'll cry a little, nibble on chocolate, and then go back to revising NINJAS.  That sounds like a perfect summer (for at least one week).  Of course, part of being an emerging novelist and professor means conceding much of your power to other people who control your destiny (e.g., the department chair, the dean of your school, the program coordinator, the literary agent, the acquisitions editor, the fiction reader), and that's probably the hardest part of this gig:  working your ass off for something that ultimately isn't in your hands after a certain stage.  So, thank you universe for this exhilarating summer.  But next summer, please be much more chill in the GenX sense of the word.

Sending Out Query Letters for Dream Pop Origami

I've been working on my awesome (totally sui generis), innovative memoir, Dream Pop Origami, off and on for the past year.  Some of the essays I wrote back in 2002 when I was living in Portland but most of this memoir was written in the past year.  The basic concept, though, has been marinating for at least a decade inside my noodle.  Anyway, I can't give any specific details about my memoir--top secret shit--but I can admit that I'm finally sending out a few query letters to literary agents now that Dream Pop Origami is ready for public consumption.  I've finally reached that stage for this manuscript.  Stay tuned for the deetz, man.

Melissa Flashman Requests Full Manuscript of Dream Pop Origami

Less than 24 hours after I sent her a query letter for my conceptual memoir, Dream Pop Origami, Melissa Flashman wrote back requesting the full manuscript.  In many ways, this is really awesome considering that she was one of the first agents I queried, in part because she's very forward thinking and is always looking for something that's bold, fresh and also deals with what it means to be human--all things I also care about deeply in my own writing.  Anyway, I won't get my hopes up at this point but I'm happy to see her interest in my manuscript.  She's exactly the agent, or the type of agent, I'd want interested in my memoir.

Two Literary Agents Ask for Partial of Ninjas

After getting Ayesha Pande's email today + a republication request from a major Australian news outlet for an essay I wrote earlier for the Good Men Project, I have to say, this has been a good Monday.  Actually, in the past two weeks, two literary agents have asked for partials of my second novel, The Ninjas of My Greater Self (Kate McKean at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency and today, Ayesha Pande at Ayesha Pande Literary). And as long as there are agents reading my novel, there's (a tiny bit of) hope in my world.  Stay tuned for updates (+ possible mania/heartache).

My Annual Query Letter to Nicole Aragi

Like for X-mas, anniversaries, passover + the birthdays of uncles, I like to send Nicole Aragi a little thank-you note every year to honor + commemorate the blossoming of our future agent-writer relationship that I know we'll have someday when I'm famous + she's just a little richer because of me.

Okay, that's wishful thinking. Actually, almost every year, I like to send an unsolicited query letter to Nicole Aragi hoping that I've found the perfect window in which she's looking for just one more client that hasn't landed on her desk yet from an editor, agent or writer referral. I have no chance of codebreaking Nicole Aragi's window, I get it! But, considering what a superagent Nicole Aragi actually is + what she has done (continues to do) for the writing careers of her clients (don't even make me drop the list again), I have to fucking try anyway. So that's what I did:

Dear Lisa Smith,

Instead of sending you my annual query letter, I'm trying another approach: Is there any chance that Nicole Aragi is looking to take on a new client in 2011? If so, may I send you my query letter?

Peace, Blessings,

-Jackson Bliss

I realize my email is unorthodox + kinda curt, but I don't mean it rudely at all. I'm just trying to save Lisa Smith + Nicole Aragi time. If Nicole Aragi has already found her two new clients for the year between January + March of 2011 + she's sincerely not looking for another client until next year, then why waste their time? While I'm a hardworking writer with a crazy work ethic, an insane amount of ambition + talent to burn, I'm not a sadistic motherfucker by any stretch of the imagination. I'll never force myself on any agent, but I will try persuading a few to give me a chance. Worst case scenario (almost guaranteed scenario): Nothing happens + I'm right where I was before I sent that damn email. I can live with that.

Restructure Amnesia + New Query Letters

After licking my wounds from Molly Friedrich's rejection (I respect her enormously, but still feel cheated that she only read 45 pages of my novel), I decided that the best way to get over the hope and rejection of one of America's most prominent agents, is to:

1. Restructure The Amnesia of Junebugs. Virtually every writer and editor who has read my novel (or a portion of it), from editors at Harper Collins, the best literary agents in the whole world, to respected writers like Valerie Sayers, Frances Sherwood, Chuck Wachtel at NYU + Julianna Baggot at FSU, has loved the voice of Winnie Yu, the culture-jamming graffiti artist in the second section of my novel. But after MF stopped reading at page 45, I realized it's possible an agent may never actually get to the 2 couples with more substance, where the heart of the novel is (my first couple just fucks a lot and overintellectualizes everything, kinda like going to Oberlin College). So, to remedy this, I've switched sections one and two. Now, section two, the middle section, is chock full of sex, sandwiched by deeper, more complex, and more human characters.

2. My second response, which is just as healthy, and just as likely to break my heart someday, is to send out new novel queries to new agents. So I sent out a query letter to an agent at The Gernert Company in New York, and another one to David Foster Wallace's agent in SF.

Stay tuned. . .

I Hope, Therefore I Write

I just sent query letters for my novel The Amnesia of Junebugs to Katherine Fausset and Jim Rutman and I'm wondering whether being in Argentina will positively or negatively prejudice my chances of getting a top-notch literary agents. Considering how many agents don't accept email queries, it seems like a bad move I admit. But I'm hopeful that Beth de Guzman will eventually help me out or that something else will work out eventually. I still hope because I'd stop writing otherwise.

What Universe Am I In?

These past two nights, i've been doing strange shit RIGHT before i go to bed. Why do I do this? For example:

Last night, i was just about to close my little polar white Macbook when i suddenly decided to write three novel query letters to literary agents and try to pitch my novel to them, even THOUGH i'm waiting to hear from Mcsweeney's, Simon & Schuster, and my friend, BDG at Hachette promised she would read The Amnesia of Junebugs and talk to two of the greatest agents in the history of literary representation on my behalf, after a gentle push email, that is, and the strange thing is it just happened, just like that.

And tonight, i was about to go to bed, Erika was badgering me to fall asleep with her like she always does, and i was just about to follow her into the bedroom, and then the next thing i know, i uploaded a short story to Crazyhorse's 2007 fiction prize contest, wrote up a quick cover letter, and signed a check that's ready to be mailed off tomorrow. sometimes, i can be so random.

Strange thing happened in the course of 10 hours: one of the queries i sent at 2 in the morning was to Miriam Goderich at the illustrious Gystel & Goderich, and i got this rejection email from her ed assistant later this morning that began with "Dear Author". that's a rejection in less than TWELVE HOURS. that has GOT to be a record in some time zones. the strange thing is, this lit agency hates generic queries but they sent me a generic rejection. there's a word for that.

There's a word for that. It's lame. L-A-M-E, lame.

I also discovered last night that the Writers Post Journal, the small indie magazine out of pittsburgh that was about to publish "Hula Dancing in the Bronx" suddenly shut down for good, without any real explanation. They didn't even email me to let me know. In fact, all of my follow-up emails got bounced back. Somehow this is worse than getting rejected. Putos.

Anyway, onward then.

Lastly: I sent out 19 more submissions for my last push of 2007 to journals like playboy, the virginia quaterly, the atlantic monthly, fiction international, iowa review, fugue, tin house, and many more. i think i have sent out close to a 120 manuscripts in the past 7 months. it's gotten so bad that the clerk recently asked me if i wanted to open up my own private account with the post office, complete with a free post office box and complimentary USPS cap. okay, that's not true. but it might as well be.