Failing Writer Entry #1.

Ok. So this isn’t really entry #1. I’ve written rejection haikus, quoted rejecting editors, and listed numerous struggles.

But now it’s official. I’ll go two directions: “Everyday Dirtbag” and “Failing Writer”, entries on both topics. So here goes:

In June of 2000, I got my first hand-written and detailed rejection letter from The Northwest Review – Shimon Tanaka. And I thought I’d made it. A real, hand-written note from an editor? One or two more submissions, and I would be publishing. Practically famous.

Except that I didn’t publish anything until 2004 when I “sold” a nonfiction piece to the now-defunct Ink Pot Literary Journal, a non-paying publication with a print-run of only 500.

Then I “sold” a climbing article to the now-out-of-print VBouldering, after which the editor never paid me and printed it without my name next to the article.

61 consecutive rejections followed those two publications.

Then in early 2007, my fiction collection in progress won the Literary Arts Fellowship for Fiction.

I was big time.

I went to Portland and gave a speech. They asked me to come back and give another speech. They put me up in the same hotel room at the Heathman that they’d rented for David Sedaris. We ate a luncheon. I met people in publishing.

This was it.

Except that it wasn’t. My collection didn’t sell. A few presses asked for the full manuscript, and read it, but the book was never acquired. And it sat. Unpublished.

I was writing my memoir at the same time. People kept telling me that if I finished that book, it would definitely sell.

I got more rejections on my stories. A few dozen.

Then in 2008, I sold a climbing article. Then two, then three, then four. My literary writing would have to follow.

And on February 8th of 2009 (yes, I know the exact date), I was given three offers of representation by New York agents. My brother-in-law brought beer over. We celebrated. And the next day, I chose my agent.


It didn’t work out. There are many reasons, but basically my agent and I had different visions for how and where to submit the book to publishers. So, last week, I fired her. And for the past week I have been without an agent. No book. No agent. No big stories coming out.

I’ve queried three agents I admire, but I haven’t heard anything back yet. Maybe tomorrow? Maybe this week?  Maybe not at all.

A failing writer calls out.


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