So the editorial situation for my third book is still a mess, and has gotten more complicated, to the point where it's really not appropriate for me to continue posting about it on an anonymous public blog, as a lot of specifics are involved. And curse words.
Today I was back in my hometown to give a speech to students in my high school about my book and the publishing process. This was requested by an English teacher I didn't know, which shocked the hell out of me. I babbled for about 45 minutes and I'm pretty sure I might have said something in there about something related to writing. When I do public speaking it's kind of blur. It's good to go into my 10th reunion this fall with a major accomplishment. I looked in my yearbook when I got there to jog my memory of the names of my teachers, as I am especially terrible at remembering names, and discovered that in my senior profile, I asked people to buy my book (the one I was trying to publish at the time) or "a book by me by another title." Actually the English teacher, the alumni director, and the librarian all got copies from me for free, but the principle is there, which is that I had a dream in high school and I've fulfilled it. I need to come up with some crazier dreams.
Also very satisfying: My mother asked me to clean out my desk while I was home, which was filled with old paper and bank statements that needed to be shredded alongside the very important documents to save, like GRE scores and proof of jury duty service. Included in this desk was a huge stack of rejection letters from various graduate programs in creative writing. I was rejected almost everywhere I applied, and I applied repeatedly: my senior year of college, the year I was in Israel, and the year I was home sick after Israel. I applied to Columbia's MFA program three times (and was waitlisted once, but never got off it). My fiction was apparently "too commercial" as grad professors have admitted off the record. Obvious I did get in somewhere, really a middle tier school looking to expand its program with more students, and even there I was ostracized for writing "popular fiction" and one professor threatened to flunk me if I didn't write about myself. Also I probably burned the bridge of being hired as a professor there by calling the head of the department a sadist to his face.
Number of books under contract 1 year after graduating with my MFA: 5
Anyway, I shredded all of my rejections (and the acceptances to the crappy programs). Let me tell you, it was very satisfying. Especially for Columbia. Three times I paid that application fee, which went up from $85 to $120 the final year. Also Iowa, just because everyone applies to Iowa and no one gets in. Man, they rejected the hell out of me.
So, for those you receiving rejection letters: keep at it. Persistence pays off. And shredding is very theraputic.
Monday, March 30, 2009
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