So much of writing for me is sitting my ass down and writing, even when I don't want to. I have really good discipline. I can write for fifteen hours straight sometimes, and then revise and edit for days and weeks afterwards. The hardest part of writing I can do and have done since my first workshop back in 2002. The other crucial part of writing for me involves psychological and emotional maintenance (aka self-care), which is just as important. Normally, self-care for me means not only exercising, meditating, getting enough sleep, eating well, and going on dates with LB every week, but also ignoring my own negative thinking and putting myself out there again and again (even when it feels POINTLESS) and not getting discouraged (even when NOTHING is happening), which has been particularly difficult this summer.Read More
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)
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.
Dear Jackson Bliss,
Sincere thanks for sending us " . . . " for consideration. Your work impressed the editorial staff with its unique blending of Spanish and English. Though not selected for publication, the piece makes us hope we'll see more of your writing in the near future.
I've published enough short stories and lyrical essays in enough legit literary journals and also received quite a lot of positive editorial feedback to know I'm certainly talented enough for this game. But, for the past couple years, I've been struggling with a complex feeling of appreciation and exasperation with the good rejection standstill. There are a bunch of journals, some of them very prestigious, that keep sending me good, sometimes even great rejections. And I'm incredibly grateful for them. I really am. At the same time, while I used to think that eventually I could turn a good rejection from a great literary journal into an acceptance (as I did with Fiction), I'm now starting to feel like the good rejection has replaced the acceptance letter. In other words, I'm starting to think that some editors are never gonna accept my shit, and the good rejection is actually a modern day consolation prize for the wall separating me from more famous authors with recognized agents. I mean, good literary journals are only publishing 2-4 stories in any given issue anyway, most of them submitted by agents or solicited from the editor herself/himself. The way the math works, some editors are simply never gonna publish you. Ever. And the rejection letter is as much a note of encouragement as it is a mea culpa for the stacked odds against you.
Maybe, that's cynical of me. Maybe, I've got it all wrong. But as it stands right now, I feel like I have to focus my energy of finding the right agent for my memoir and the right presses for my novels. Nine years ago, I'd be ecstatic with my publication history. Now, I'm like: meh. Not because I don't appreciate it, but because my best work hasn't even been published yet. It hasn't even grazed the future readership it'll have someday once my books are all finally out there in the world, ready for public consumption.
1. Gracious or sincere in a way that doesn't feel rushed
2. Longer than two sentences
3. Addressed to me.
The long and short is, I'm absolutely not gonna enter this contest again. I could have used that money to take LB out for dinner at The Loving Hut or bought 25 songs or three ebooks on iTunes or ordered new boxer briefs at Hugo Boss.com! Something's gotta give, and it's not gonna be dinner, music, books or underwear, I'll tell you that.
Thank you for entering our Juniper Prize competition. I am sorry that your entry was not chosen. I hope you will enter again in August 2014.
I'm sorry to tell you that we won't be using the work you submitted to the tenth issue of Upstreet. This issue has not been easy to get into. Out of almost three hundred submitted essays, we will be publishing fewer than ten.
I hope you won't let this deter you from submitting to Upstreet again. We will always be glad to read and consider your work. Best of luck with your writing, and thank you for letting us read " . . ." which has been on our short list since we received it.
P.O. Box 105
Richmond, MA 01254-0105
Thank you for sending " . . . " for our consideration. While we are not going to publish it, we enjoyed it quite a bit and wish to encourage you to submit again. Please visit http://www.fenceportal.org and sign up for our email newsletter for notification of our next reading period.
A second, more obviously strategic reason not to tell people where you applied for an academic job is because there's always a chance---even in the digital information flow---that they don't know about that specific job + if you tell them, you're just increasing the competition for yourself (because most of your academic + creative writing friends are at least as brilliant and talented as you are), which is the last thing you want to do.
On no level do you want your friends, colleagues or talented classmates from your cohort to fail. You just want to succeed really badly + not advertising academic jobs to other people places the burden of researching academic jobs + multitasking dissertations and job searches on other people, where it belongs. Still, it feels kinda shady sometimes because normally, I'd tell everyone everything (as I pretty much do on this website) because I want all my friends to be enormously successful because they're good people.
Anyway, the rejection letter I got today addressed to "Dear Candidate," which is never a good sign, said that Hamilton College received 350 applications for this one single position! Let that sink in for a second. 350 applications. That's fucking insane. But from what I'm gathering from reading articles in the Chronicle, among other places, is that as universities hire less + less tenure track faculty (employing more adjuncts to cut costs now that universities are being run more like corporations), the competition for the few tenure track positions that pop up has become unwieldy, overwhelming + even bloodthirsty.
Obviously I don't know shit about what's gonna happen for me in the near future. All I know is that I've applied to 36 academic jobs + fellowships so far in 14 different states (both tenure track + visiting assistant professorships), which does not include all the query emails I sent to every single CW department at every single Chicago university two years ago. I still have 3 more fellowships to apply to in addition to every new CW academic I can find between now + May of 2014. Of those 36 jobs I've applied to so far, I'm still waiting to hear from 26 of them. I'm also waiting to hear back from 3 literary agents + 4 indie presses reading my first two novels in addition to something like 75 literary journals.
In other words, I don't have a damn clue what's gonna happen with my academic or literary career, but barring some statistical anomaly, the exit polls show that this is gonna be a tight race, ladies + gentlemen. I'm an eternal optimist. I believe that something amazing can happen in a blink of an eye. But it's good I guess that I ground my expectations on data + fully understand how brutal this fight is gonna be. Hamilton's rejection might be a microcosm of hurt, so I may need to build my weight up.
Thank you for sending us " ---". We really enjoyed this piece, but we didn't feel it was right for Esquire at this time.
We hope that you will continue to send us your work. When and if you do, please keep the following in mind:
*We want stories that feel especially timely and urgent and speak to current events and the state of the world around us.
* We cannot consider stories longer than 5,000 words.
* We ask that you use 12-point font, double-spaced. Verdana or Times New Roman preferred. Be sure your name, contact information, story title, and word count are at the top of your document and please remember to number your pages
The Editors of Esquire
2013-08-16 12:27:01 (GMT -4:00)
Although we have decided against using " . . .", we were interested in it and would be glad to see more of your work between Sept. 1 and May 1.
PS: This came very close!
Thank you for sending your work to Narrative. We are always grateful for the opportunity to review new material, and we have given " . . " close attention and careful consideration. We found many strengths to recommend your work and, overall, much to admire. We regret, however, that " . . . " is not quite right for us. We encourage you try us again in the future, and we hope that you will.
In case you can't make out this rejection slip, it says:
I found your story delightful + intriguing, unfortunately we are looking for stories for our animal issue, "A Menagerie."
Since when did Conjunctions starts becoming a themed journal? Who fucking knows, since now, I guess. Still, if I had to pick a reason for my story to be rejected, I guess this would be it. I think the reader was very gracious to write these words + I'll remember them the next time I get a form rejection in the mail.
Anyway, Paris Review, expect a new kickass story in the mail as soon as I'm done with this motherfucking dissertation chapter. Then it's your turn! And I'm bringing the big guns this time. I'm gonna glock my way to publication.
Thank you for submitting to Chicago Review. We're sorry to report that we are not going to publish your story. Good luck
finding a bitchier rejection anywhere in the whole worldplacing it elsewhere.
Thank you for your patience. We had a chance to read " . . . " this month, and while we are returning this piece, we would be interested in reading more of your work and encourage you to submit again when you have new work.
Our submission system reopens on September 15. In the meantime, please join us on Twitter or visit our website (www.apublicspace.org) to keep in touch.
Thank you again for thinking of APS for " . . . " We hope you have a lovely summer!
With very best wishes,
A Public Space