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Friday, December 31, 2010

What's Your Literary New Year's Resolution?

Mine is to get the novel published, same as it is always is, but also to make some tracks into the memoir. Oh, and not to be so neurotic about the whole thing. I'm planning on a very Zen year. You?

p.s. In the meantime, Happy 2011, Rosemary Ahern, wherever you are.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What Do We Think of This Dude?

In this interview, Stephen Markley claims George Bush wrote him a note about his book, titled Publish This Book. The premature author also says: "Some chapters are about me drinking, cussing, and fornicating, so I had to do a lot of hands-on research for those. Other chapters required more reading. For instance, when I went to write about the publishing industry, to try to understand and articulate what young writer’s face when they try to publish, I wanted to get as many perspectives as I could. In a way, that kind of research is more fun: attempting to distill a piece of the world into a thoughtful but entertaining little mid-book essay. It’s like fornicating with your mind." I don't know, dude. I mean, really, is there anything that's really like fornicating with one's mind? It sounds all a bit puerile and like a big put on, doesn't it? I mean, consider his attempt at promoting the book. Or maybe I'm just not that kind of a guy's guy/gal/person. What say the mice on this topic? Has anyone read this book?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Be My Ten Speed Colleague (Rejected, Of Course)

"Dear Colleague" is a vaguely interesting address for a rejection letter. Otherwise, it's the same old hum-drum ten-speed rejection.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hello Holiday Mouselettes

So sorry for the scant and skinny posting this week. I'm bogged down with the most boring paid work: a compliance website that's supposed to be "fun," even though the content is deadly, so I'm spending all my energy writing "fun," but "very serious" sentences. That's for pay of course. Also, I am busily trying to keep my balance on the restructuring of the novel, which proves to be a big challenge. You know how that is, right? Every little thing you change, makes everything else need a slight adjustment in tension, pacing and even sometimes in character attitude. But it's all very good, and I'm happy to be doing it. Mostly I'm grateful to the encouraging persistence of Agent 99.  So, forgive me if I don't get as many rejections up this week; I'll try though. Hope you all are having a lovely holiday.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Comes Early

I woke up this morning, and I knew how to fix my novel. I've been restructuring it since November, but I had a pacing issue. Figured out how to fix it the moment I opened my eyes.  Love that...better than Christmas morning, and probably just as spiritual an event. Got this message from the agent somewhat recently: "I cannot wait to read the new draft, I know I’m putting you through the ringer, but I really believe in this book." Very nice! I feel fortunate.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When Assholes Fly

This is a fantastic rejection letter: a) referral to a different editor, b) a tip about what will and will not work for the publication. Also, I love that in 1996, the NYT readership is considered staid. I imagine the same would be said today. They probably still don't drop the A-bomb in the Times to this day.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wrong Genre Rejection

It's always a bummer when you submit to the wrong agency for the wrong thing. At least you know they passed their eyes over your work.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Everybody Gets Rejected

'Nuff said? You're in fine company, and maybe you're just not ready yet either, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be snapped up now in your Baby-Madonna state. Which is to say artists aren't always born; some of us are in the process of self creation.  I wonder if this dude is sorry for missing the boat while it was sailing nearby. And on that note, have a good weekend everybody.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

According to Health Magazine, writers are at number 6 on the list of the 10 careers with high rates of depression. Thanks to GalleyCat for the news flash.  I think we all probably already knew this. But it's nice to have reality confirmed. There's medication and therapists for this, you know. I used to worry that my depression was the source of my creativity, but I'm over that phase of crazy thinking. I'm just as exuberantly writerly without feeling suicidal it turns out. Who knew?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


When you don't get into art school, you can always turn the rejection into art.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Batten Down The Hatches, Ya'll

So, Gawker has had a major problem, resulting in your username and password being "released on the Internet." This means, it's time to change your username and password, not just on Gawker, but everywhere else, too.  It's major identity protection time, peeps.  Get to it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Didn't Even Look At It Rejection

We do live in paranoid times, but not without reason. I had a friend whose movie idea was stolen right out from under her after "comedy writers" worked on her script, and then apparently went skipping on over to a certain famous actor obsessed with religion who allegedly beats up his girlfriend and coughed the idea right on up to him.  Leo's peeps are never going to be sued for those shenanigans with this cautious attitude, though does an agent or manager's presence really stop ideas from being stolen.  Aren't you just fascinated by the idea of idea ownership...If I could own an idea "idea ownership" is the one I'd own.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dear Mute Entity That Makes Me Seem Cute

Is it some sort of trend among the young people?  (I sound like my mother: that and "the email.")  But really what's with all the writing of letters to things that can't write back. Have we lost our way? Is communication so abstract that it seems plausible to write to rejection letters and futures? Just wondering. And also: "Dear Dust Bunny Beneath my feet: I think you should stop mocking me. Sweep your own self up; I'm tired.  Sincerely, WR" "Dear Starbucks Chai Latte: You can fool me no longer. You are really just a liquid piece of cake in a cup. Tempt me no more, Okay? Now go away, WR" Maybe we've simply lost interest in what others (preferably mindful beings) have to say.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

When Did It Stop Being Personal?

This is what I imagine most literary rejection letters look like in the agent/editor's computer before it is filled in and sent to you. Of course the material would be about [] and your [ Maybe there are agents/editors out there who can confirm that the format above is applicable to the publishing enterprise in which we are all so fervently engaged?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A New Approach to Rejection

You could always write your rejection letter a letter....huh? I don't think that would make me feel better, though apparently it worked for this college senior getting rejected from non-creative jobs.  To apply it to the literary world, it would be something like:  "Dear Assanine Literary Rejection: Thank you for the wake up call, for showing me that you are more lame than my novel is. It hurts, but I'm still breathing. Kisses and hugs, W,R"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Vintage Rejection Monday

Could this be the source of the original multiple choice rejection? (I do love me a good multiple choice rejection.)  The above was originally posted on NPR; it's a rejection slip from the film company famous for producing Charlie Chaplin films. Essanay Film Manufacturing was in operation from 1907-1925. I personally like the directive in #17, as if that were the direction of modern American movies. Funny.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Can't Even Think of A Title

Form rejection on a slip of paper: I got nothing. Can't think of single thing to say about it, clever or otherwise. Nope...nothing.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Evidence for Mr. Proof

I really just like the names in this rejections from Mr. Proof to Quirk Books. It's like all of life is just a cartoon, even the rejections.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cutbank Rejection

Dear [first name of writer]: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to read “[title of piece].” While we very much enjoyed your work, after careful consideration, we’ve decided we don’t have a place for this manuscript. Your story was compelling and received a lot of positive reactions from the staff. We hope you’ll keep us in mind and send us more work in the future. Kind regards, Laura Scott, Cutbank Literary Journal

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So You Want to Write a Novel

This is who gets published instead of you. Courtesy of a nice mouse who sent me the link.  My favorite line is:
Q: "I assumed you've used a steak knife, right?"
A: "Of course."
Q: "Do you think you're qualified to perform neurosurgery?"
A: "Ha, ha. That's funny. I might base a character on you."
Q: "So do you think that being able to read and write in your native language qualifies you to write a novel?"
A: "How many editors will Random House assign to my novel?"
Q: "Minus 13."

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Redneck Thanksgiving

Sorry for the lapse in posts over the Thanksgiving holiday. I went back to my hometown to spend the first holiday with my mother and a couple of my brothers. I haven't been to a holiday in at least a decade for, it turns out, good reason. I have made it a policy to avoid those drunken affairs especially when my father was alive. I made my visits on non-holiday occasions. But this year, we moved my mother out of the family home (which we sold) and into a nice little condo that she loves; somehow I thought this would make us free from all the past bullshit and bad feelings. A fresh place, a fresh start. I thought maybe her first Thanksgiving in the new place would be kind of nice. Oh, futile optimism! Let's just say that one of my drunky brothers made a huge unpleasant scary scene that pretty much ruined the whole dinner. Luckily, it was after the turkey. (Though before the pie.) I'm talking some kind of hostile crazy screaming in the street, peeps. An insane scene. Well, the stuff of memoirs, really, though I can imagine if he were a character in a book you may have a hard time believing anyone would act that way.  Reality more bizarre than the written word.  Alas.  Hope your Thanksgiving was better than mine.  In other news, I am happily working on the new draft with the restructure of the novel.  Writing saves me.  It always has.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Publishing Shrinkage

Ah, breaking news from the New York Times on what's to come.  Three words, peeps: consolidation, consolidation, consolidation.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

You've Got Such an Unusual Mind

An anonymous LROD reader sent this rejection in for your consideration.  It's from Rattle, a journal of "Poetry for the 21st Century":
Hi Writer: Unfortunately this didn't make the final cut, but it came close -- I really enjoyed it, especailly the ending. You've got an unusual mind that's interesting to read. I think you'll have something make it all the way eventually. Sorry for the bad news with this one, though. Best, Tim
Sometimes it's worse when you know how close you actually came.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Uncluttered Prose

OTP is On The Premises, a web-based magazine. Here's the mission:
On The Premises aims to promote newer and/or relatively unknown writers who can write what we feel are creative, compelling stories told in effective, uncluttered, and evocative prose. Entrants pay no fees, and winners receive cash prizes in addition to exposure through publication.

Friday, November 19, 2010

In Other News...

So it turns out that several quotes from my work have been selected in a very fancy reference book of quotes, a cool surprise.  Also, there appears to be an entry about me in an encyclopedia of contemporary American writers. Weird. I didn't know the people involved in either project, and clearly they do not know I am, after all, generally Writer, Rejected, not Writer, Celebrated.  Anyway, sorry for the missing post yesterday; I'm writing like a fiend on the restructuring of the novel, plus having to keep up with my paid-work deadlines as well. I'll keep you posted.

Stealing Money From the Desperate

An uncscupulous group of swindlers give literary types a bad name across the globe. (In this scenario, hopeful writers are as vulnerable as old ladies.) As I always say about the darker side of humanity, people are goats; they'd eat your shoes if you let them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Voted Most Likely To...

Are we depressing? I thought we were comforting and consoling, a little bit pissed sometimes, but continuing to strive and thrive.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Incongruously Repetitious, Repeating and Repetitive

Here's a good one, sent in by an LROD reader: Hi--Unfortunately we have decided not to include your poem in this issue of the Incongruous Quarterly.We appreciated the energy in the poem, but felt that we would have liked there to be more. Right now the poem feels a little repetitious, and some of the ideas being repeated (i.e. those about rejection) don't feel to us like they gain more significance as they reappear. Thank you for thinking of us, and good luck.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Inspiration for Daunting Tasks

"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes." --Oscar Wilde

p.s. Agent 99 got back to me with advice to dive back in one more time with some structural changes. She felt that the work we did this summer didn't exactly address the thing that we identified was wrong with the novel from the get-go. She was very kind and made some very lofty comparisons of how popular and literary she thinks the novel can be if I can fix the problem.  I was hoping not to have to restructure, for fear of ruining everything, but I think she's right; it's what I need to do. Turns out the six month hiatus was good.  After being away form it, I think I'm up to the task.  Sometimes time is just the thing to offer a fresh perspective. Anyway, I'm going back in; wish me luck.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Anything But Pleasing

Guess they wouldn't have guessed in 1907 how popular stories that are "actually repellent" and "deal with the horrible" would become.  Alas, the rejecting editor is always so short-sighted, no matter the era.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You Are Not One of The Beautiful People

This was sent in by an (apparently unattractive) LROD mouse. Click on it to read. Not literary, but funny.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

VQR Closed for Business?

I missed this article last month. Sad, all around. "They have closed the offices of the Review, founded in 1925 and housed in a campus building designed by Thomas Jefferson, pending the outcome of the investigation."  Discuss, please.

What $43 Buys You

Convenient tiered rejection right before your very eyes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Truth Lies Elsewhere

This is a new one: your work "lies outside our publishing program."  Funny how many different ways people think up to say -- what? Not for us? Not good enough? Not a prayer? Who knows?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When You're Just Not As Cooked As You Think

Sometimes you get rejected because your stuff isn't working yet. Believe me, I've had a lot of that. It's difficult to cultivate patience in the process, to wait until something is really ready to send out.  I've spent most of my career being eluded by that very important talent. Anyway, see exhibit A and B in the fishing-related cartoon above for a sample of sending out something that's not fully cooked.  I think it's supposed to be a) A food chain joke and b) a skeleton joke about how long it takes to catch a fish. Do they go together to say something bigger? Not sure.  I do like the actual drawings, and these are close to working.  Just not quite...yet.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Inappropriate for Children?

The Editors at Delacorte Press' Books for Young Readers might wish to ixnay the whole "appropriate"/"implied inappropriate" language in their itty/bitty form rejection. The word takes on a slightly sinister meaning in the context of children's literature. Just a thought.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Asimov Understands

"Rejections slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil--but there is no way around them." --Isaac Asimov

Friday, October 29, 2010

Only Radio Static From the Agent

No word. I'm zen. Maybe Monday. How we suffer. Finished last rewrite end of August. Now, nearly November.  Still no word.  There was Frankfurt.  And other things. She's busy. I know.  But will she send it out?  Or send me back for more revisions?  Maybe it's good. Time brings clarity. Novels need to stew. As stated: I'm zen.  Sort of.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Tyrant Will Not Publish Your Piece

Well, given the name, what did you expect? From now on, inspired by this rejection, I'm going to sign all my emails "Love, Tyrant."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Warrior of My Heart

Strange sentiment, no? "Although we've decided against your work, once upon a time we were interested." I guess the idea is that you'll feel better knowing you weren't just immediately dismissed as a terrible writer out of hand. Is it better or worse knowing that Black Warrior had interest upon opening the envelope, but quickly lost that loving feeling? Also, this is a form rejection, so how sincere could the "it's-not-you-it's-me" excuse really be taken? Not very.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Crazy Life and Your Too "Poetry Slam-y" Poetry

This rejection came from Dan Tricarico, editor of  LITSNACK, sent to one of our very own mice. I love the casual tone, like a friend taking a little too long to get back to you: "I'm sorry I took so long to respond to these. My life has been crazy. Unfortunately, these aren't working for me. There is some lively writing here, but they come off a little too hip-hop/poetry slam-y for my tastes. Hope you understand." p.s. Does the LitSnack motto make any sense to anyone? Just wondering.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Not Quite Right For Junior High

Found this online. Is it me -- or are the editor's handwritten notes appearing in a younger and younger hand?  This is, like, 8th grade.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Will You Be My Father/Agent And Never Disinherit me?

Tim Seldes is an old-timey gentleman agent. I got a rejection from him too.  I chatted with him once, not knowing that he was an agent, a legend, etc.  He was very nice and sparkly. I kind of wished he could be my father in an embarrassing way that I couldn't entirely repressed, though maybe it was because my father had died so recently and had, as many of you know, cut me (of all his children) out of the will just to be mean. As it turned out, Mr. Seldes ended up being a charming conversationalist, someone I met at a wedding: nothing more, nothing less.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dear Literary Monkey

If you know the Kenyon Review and its blog, (which for some reason is posting only on Merwin this month) you can help out by taking the survey mentioned above by going here. (Awfully nice of me, since LROD isn't, I notice, even mentioned on KR's blog roll....hmm.) By the way, I love Survey Monkey so much that I'm going to make up an LROD survey for all you mice to give back some feed. (Does anyone want to be on the Survey Monkey Committee?) Please submit survey questions about LROD in the comments section below.  Here are a few to get us started:
  1. How many literary rejections can you honestly boast?
  2. What's your social security number and mother's maiden name?
  3. What's your agent's name?
  4. C'mon, we can't all have Binky Urban....what's your real literary agent's name?
  5. Do you really have a literary agent; or are you just floating the dream?
  6. How many times (a day) do you visit LROD? 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Inspiration Tuesday