A Near Miss

(This is good news. Always good to hear from an editor with more positive editorial comment. I submitted “Lena’s Trip Home” to this publication.)

Dear John,

With regret I must inform you that we’re going to pass on your story. Your work was very close and passed through the first round of the acceptance process, making it a near miss. We strongly encourage you to submit to us again after September 1.


Timothy Gager

One of the Latest Failures

(The good thing about sighing up with a website that helps you distribute your manuscripts is that you get rejections from more diverse places. I will reproduce the text here because I am too lazy to take a picture of it this morning:)

August 11, 2009

Dear John Paul,

Thank you so much for allowing us the opportunity to consider Little Lolo Stories. You’re clearly a talented writer and have an intriguing premise for your novel. Unfortunately, we’re not convinced we’d be the right agency for this; we’re just not connecting enough with the material to take it on.

Thank you, again, for sending it our way, and we wish you the best of luck securing representation.


The Gernert Company


(It seems part comlimentary and part rejecting so it is hard to take. “We’re just not connecting with the material” can mean so much; is it the Spanglish or the setting/content?

In positve news, Jennifer S. Davis has tentatively agreed to help edit my manuscripts as long as the CN staff does not see a conflict. )

Monte Chapters

(Here is my attempt to make sense of the Monte Stories chapters I’ve been free writing/drafting lately. I think I might have them in some kind of order now.)

1. Carlos Stories-forward ahead to Bruna and Lena talking to Manito about Carlos

2. Intro/Background-Monte and San Luis Valley

3. Carlos and Pifanio Work in South Fork-intro to Carlo’s work

3.4 Stampede

3.5 Felipa

3.55 Felipa and Carlo on babies

3.6 Pifanio

4. Carlos and Felipa-back in time Felipa regrets marrying Carlos

5. Delores-relationships before meets Pifanio

6. Carlos-walks in sleep

6.5 Carlos sees UFO

7. Pifanio’s Wife-Delores leaves him again and again

8. Pifanio and Felipa-forward in time after Pifanio sleeps with Felipa

8.5. Carlos at Doctor

8.6 Felipa and Carlos and Pifanio Clash over Baby

9. Phone Call to Lena-Carlos calls Lena asking her to take Felipa’s baby

10. Lena’s Trip Home-Lena picks up baby and Felipa flips out

11. Felipa to Huerfano and Haunts Lena and Bruna

12. Felipa and Pifanio Get Together

Random Thoughts on ‘Messy’ Writers

Because I am a sad intellectual type I found myself listening to NPR today, specifically Dave Davies sitting in for Terry Gross. And if you anything about me you know how I feel about Terry Gross. Anyway, today, Davies interviewed Paul Giamatti who I loved in Sideways as the frustrated novelist. I like that his characters are frumpy and unkempt, like Harvey Picar in American Splendor and even his portrayal of John Adams felt frayed around the edges.

On the show Davies and Giamatti discussed the idea of Giamati being described as a ‘messy’ actor. And to explain his thought he brought up Thomas Pynchon and how his novels are kind of a mess. Here’s a bit of the transcript I found at NPR.org. He went on to explain: 

  • “I like things being a little loose and baggy sometimes and not so on the nose all the time.”

He went on to say he hoped this was just not an excuse for crappy acting and for lacking discipline but it got me thinking about my style of writing and how I feel so sloppy and also messy. How I see this as a failure instead of as style. Mostly I think this because as a writer I also feel my writing is a mess. I mean I lose sections and I can’t organize them very well and I am undisciplined in my note taking and time management. I swhat I call style and what I see as style really a rhetorical flaw.

I guess I also related to this because I forget character names and have no idea of making my work appear anyway near ‘popular fiction’ I guess because of the Spanglish and looseness of plot–what I choose to write about. I tell my students sometimes like Richard Hugo in Triggering Town that there is no reader/audience. And I also say things like Sherwood Anderson–form is more important than plot. Maybe I am just upset about my lack of skill like Giamati says about sympathy for crappy acting. But I like broken down things–broken down narratives and people and also paragraphs at least plot wise. I know I repeat and I have a tendency to be redundant and I forget plot points but I like the free writing I put together right now and I feel that editing can come later. But in terms of plot development I like things unfolding in prose like a lawn chair. Things rarely happen in real life in understandable or decipherable means. Smooth transitions rarely happen in real life so why can’t they appear in prose.

Mostly what I am working on now is focused on family stories and finding those stories when you need them and imagining those stories inside of the prose. That seems more important than all of the threads tying up in the work I guess is what I am trying to say. Who cares if the prose isn’t neat or tight.

I mean I remember Keith Scribner describing Denis Johnson as writing ‘seemingly distracted and also ‘seemingly dismantled’ prose. Maybe this shows my love for Jesus’ Son and Angels which are two books I feel are loose–characters come in a and go away and we don’t have much closure in terms of plot. But they are always focused and patterned  like prose poetry rather than what I call panaramic or complete novels. No happy endings and sometimes not even satisfying endings. Like Giamati says, the work doesn’t have to be ‘on the nose’ all of the time. The aesthetic can embrace fractured narratives and fragmented story lines like the fractured and fragmented family stories I try to scrape together from family and photos and also imagine.

Not all stories need a topic sentence or satisfying conclusion giving everything to the reader and not leaving anything up to the intelligent and imaginative reader.

Monte Stories Notes

Sections sort of written/drafted:

Intro/Background-intro valley and place

Work in South Fork-intro work crew

Pifanio and Felipa-

Carlos Stories-bacground of Lena telling Manito the stories

Phone Call to Lena-Pifanio promises baby to Lena

Lena’s Trip Home–Lena picks up new born Bruna


Sections to write:


Carlos’ Wives


Carlos Meets Felipa


Pifanio Meets Felipa



Felipa Pregnant

Carlos’ Odd Experience

the Stampede

Felipa in Huerfano

San Luis Map