02 October 2009

My First Murmurs as a LA Writer

I'm not gonna lie, this was a pretty good week for me as a Chicago implant + new LA fiction writer. Among the many small things that give me little heart joy:

1. I met Howard Junker (the editor of the ever-great Zyzzyva
) on the phone on Wednesday. Evidently, he liked one of my short stories I'd sent him only last week about a pepera that falls in love with one of her victims. It's called "30 Roofies." He told me a bunch of things, many of them mysterious + smart, some even flattering: he wants to publish something of mine in the spring; it may be 30 Roofies, it may not be, who knows; he wants something of mine hot off the press; he feels like 30 Roofies is good, but slightly old for my repertoire, but not wrinkled per se. He didn't tell me why he thought that though (I wrote 30 Roofies in the spring of 2008, so in a way he's right, but maybe he's been reading my blog). Anyway, of course I'm thrilled by this because Zyzzyva is the real deal as far as literary journals go, a fierce defender of emerging writers + Howard Junker has been fighting the good fight for 25 years, even standing up to other journals that have become too smug/slick for their own good--something I welcome frankly because it forces us to ask ourselves why writing matters. At the same time, nothing is set yet for me. So until he says yes Jackson let's do this, I look at his letter/offer as very promising for sure but not concrete. Not yet anyway. I think I'm going to send him a new chapter from my second novel that I recently started. It doesn't get fresher than that man

2. I gave my first public reading in LA last night at the Mountain Bar for USC's The Loudest Voice (along with my talented classmates Elise Suklje-Martin, Lisa Locascio, Jess Piazza + poet extraordinaire Mark Irwin).

Though my performance wasn't my favorite one by any stretch of the imagination (I mean, I actually messed up a few words + adlibbed more than once as I was turning the page), people seemed to like it a lot, which is always flattering

3. Mark Irwin, (who is one badass poet, not to mention a four-time Pushcart Prize-winner) came up to me afterwards + told me he really enjoyed my reading. Mark fucking Irwin,
man. This guy's huge + has been published in every major literary journal + not once mind you, but repeatedly. Anyway, when a poet of that caliber, charisma + reputation compliments you, you do one thing: you fucking take it

4. I'm entering BLANK in the Bellwether Prize this Monday, a contest founded by Barbara Kingsolver to spotlight socially conscious fiction that speaks of the greater world around us + our responsibility to that world + to each other. It's gonna be hard to win that contest because there will be many fantastic novels, many of which will come from writers with impressive resumes + even more impressive apprentisage, but I still have to try. BLANK, despite its flaws, is a beautiful + important novel + it advocates human connectivity, social protest + collective responsibility as well as offer a critique of narcissism, doing so in a way that is important, ambitious + yet also tricky too for some agents to swallow. Wish me luck peeps. In this industry, talent is not enough. You also need lucky dice + an empty seat at the High Rollers Table to strike it big


Denis said...

Man, sounds like you had a great week. Congrats on both the Junker call and the Irwin compliment! I'm sorry I wasn't able to make it to the reading, but I don't have a car, and taking public transportation to downtown just wasn't going to work out. Hopefully I will be able to make it to your next one.

Good luck with the contest submission, Jackson!

JACKSON BLISS at 水と魂 said...

Yeah, it was all right man. No worries about not making it down. I know mass transit isn't the best in LA. That said, I also took mass transit to Chinatown but I'm lucky because I live in Hollywood so I just have to walk to the red line + get off at Union Station + walk for a little bit. Anyway, the next time I have a reading, I'll def let you know about it. Keep writing.

Peace, Blessings,


Devin said...

I agree with Denis Jackson-congratulations on everything! I can't even imagine getting up in front of a crowd and doing anything haha-much less my own work-I am sure it was great as the people responded well -I agree about Irwin and I wish you all the luck in the world with the contest -all the best to you!!