Showing posts with label ZYZZYVA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ZYZZYVA. Show all posts

06 March 2013

the first publication

Jess Walter reads at Powell's from his new book of stories, We Live in Water. He answers the follow-up questions, some pointed and complex, some just curious. He gives up details of his life in Spokane, as a kid, as a writer. The real stuff. Without pretense.

Once a couple summers ago, we played basketball. Jess was my partner in a 2x2—his bad luck as I was out-of-shape and out-of-practice. He kept us in range with a mean 3-point shot, and I had a few lucky slop-shots fall, but it wasn't enough to pull out the win. He shrugged. Good game, he said.

At Powell's, he talks about rejections—his short stories, his boyhood self—without bitterness. As if it is all just a part of the process leading up to the moment of him standing at the podium answering our questions.

I want to ask him what he's reading lately, but we're out of time.

I want to make one more shot, but we'd already lost.

I want to tell him how my first publication was a line from my cover letter to Howard Junker on the back cover of Zyzzyva saying that my writing group closed every week with his quote made famous to any one of us who'd ever gotten that same rejection letter: Onward!

Instead, I hear Jess' voice whenever I read his stories:

     Bit slides the book forward. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. What's a hallow, anyway? he asks.
    The clerk takes the book and runs it through the scanner. I guess it's British for hollow. I don't read those books.
     I read the first one. It was pretty good. Bit looks around Auntie's Bookstore: big and open, a few soft chairs between the rows of books. So what do you read?
     Palahniuk. That'll be twenty-eight fifty-six.
     Bit whistles. Counts out the  money and sets it on the counter. Shit, he thinks, seventy cents short.
     The clerk has those big loopy earrings that stretch out your lobes. He moves his mouth as he counts the money.
     How big are you gonna make those holes in your ears?
     Maybe like quarter-size. Hey, you're a little short. You got a discount card?
     Bit pats himself down. Hmmm. In my other pants.

          ~ Jess Walter, "Anything Helps," from We Live in Water
Jess signs books.

Thanks for talking about the stories being rejected, I say.

Two novels published, he says, and I couldn't publish a short story. Who's this one for? 

Twice before I've had him sign books for my daughters. Me, I say. I spell my name for him. Two Rs. I.

They used to tell you to put a collection together. Now they tell you those are never published. But here it is. He hands me the signed book.

That's why this one is mine, I say.

He gives me that Jess Walter smile, and I feel like he gets it.  

 ~ sherri

19 January 2008

Some days the bear wins

Three rejections today. One is another from a mag I have been trying to break for the last year. I hadn't heard from them after going on 4 months, and I was fairy-tale hopeful that this was the one. To be fair, it was a handwritten note on my cover letter. The last one from them was a personal letter on their own letterhead saying I had been in the final selection round, thank you but no thank you. Not sure which is better.

Glimmer Train announces on their website that they are accepting simultaneous submissions now. A toast to all mags that accept the simultaneous. May your production always be flawless and your sales exceed inventory.

Working on a draft of something new in time for Monday's Hot Pages. So to quote one of the masters of rejections, Howard Junker, "Onward!"