Short Story Published in Witness

Before the insurrection on Halloween, the security guard considered himself an atheist and a cynic, but there are some things too hard to understand, things without precedent, and one of them is a polished ten-inch Colt Python Revolver pointed directly up your nostrils.

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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.


(Yet Another) Good Rejection from Witness

Dear Jackson Bliss,

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider "...." Our readers admired many elements of the work, but we've decided that the manuscript isn't right for us. We wish you success in placing it elsewhere.


The editors

Somehow, my science fiction(y)/literary short story about a giant asteroid that is heading towards Earth is not disastrous enough for Witness's disaster-themed issue. Now what?

Maybe they're just being assholes, maybe asteroids are too disastrous or maybe I'm being too goddamn literal. Who the fuck knows?

Guess I'll just send them another story + see what happens.

(Another) Good Rejection from Witness

Though I appreciate the good rejection over the impersonal form rejection obviously, I've been noticing a recent phenomenon where I keep getting the same good (but also, very short) rejection from Witness. I'm not trying to sound ungrateful, but it's starting to lose its charm. I mean, if you like my writing so much, why not tell me what's the problem with my submission: is the voice just too "ethnic" for your tastes or is the scope too urban for typical bourgeois literary journals where it's all about broken families, alcoholism + child abuse? Actually, these are all rhetorical questions because I know it comes down to taste before anything else. There's a Least Common Denominator with technique, and then after that, it comes down to style, in other words, editorial taste.

Anyway, here's like the third rejection from Witness I've received that says this. It's not a bad sign of course, but the gloss is starting fade frankly. I'm over the good rejection phase of my life. I only post them here because I like to catalog my submissions + post auspicious responses, in whatever form.

So here it is. Again:

Dear Jackson Bliss:

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your work. Unfortunately, this particular submission is not a good fit for us. We are impressed by your writing, though, and hope you will feel encouraged to submit again.

The editors

(Basically) Good Rejections from Witness + Brevity

Here are two decent rejections, not effusive, not amazing, not completely encouraging rejection letters, but also not generic either. If nothing else, I know that their readers/editors enjoyed the manuscripts I sent them. And that, if nothing else, is really important to me. See, I can appreciate the small things too:

Dear Jackson Bliss:

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your work. Although we enjoyed this submission, it does not presently meet our needs. We are grateful that you thought of us and wish you the best of luck in placing your manuscript elsewhere.

The editors


Mr. Bliss,

Thank you for submitting your work to Brevity, the journal of concise nonfiction. Although we do not have a place for your work in the issues for which we are currently reading, we wanted you to know that our readers enjoyed your essay.

We have been blessed with a large number of excellent submissions lately, and hope that you understand that we can only publish a small fraction of the material we receive. We encourage you to submit your work elsewhere and to consider us again (remembering our rule, no more than two submissions per author per calendar year.)

Good luck with your writing,

The Editors

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.