T-minus 21 and counting. T, in this case, standing for Tahoma Literary Review. The response to our announcement last week of the launch of our literary journal was far bigger than either co-Publisher Kelly Davio or I had anticipated. Between our two blogs we received more than 1,000 hits, as well as hundreds of tweets, retweets, Facebook likes and emails from well wishers.
We’ll attempt to keep the good vibes going this week with the launch of our web site. With luck we’ll make an announcement in the next couple of days when the site goes live.
Plus we’re planning several appearances at the annual AWP writers’ conference in Seattle at the end of February. Plenty to keep us busy until the event, and then the real work starts, as we dive into submissions.
Perhaps the best news of the last few days, though, was that my wife and I have finally received an offer on our house in Michigan. With a little more luck I’ll be able to join Dona in Tacoma in a few weeks, and operate the journal from where it will be based.
But life is not all roses. My local writers’ group has been conducting an extensive online chat about rejection, prompted by this missive I received from an agent regarding one of my novels:
Thank you for sending me Curtain Calls and for giving me the opportunity to consider your work.
This was a difficult decision as I was really impressed with your submission. The writing is engaging, the idea is appealing and you write with real energy and imagination. However, while there was a lot I enjoyed about your submission, ultimately, I did not feel convinced I could find a publisher for it and therefore I don’t feel able to offer you representation for this project.
So let’s recap. The agent liked the writing, liked my style, and liked the idea. So, naturally, the query had to be rejected. Huh?
My friend Stewart Sternberg offered to translate:
You’re incredible! What imagination! What talent! I had to rest every fifteen minutes for fear of being overcome by the power of your writing!!!!!!!
Unfortunately, I’ll have to pass. You’re just too good to be published. However, if you have anything with a bit more passive writing, less challenging vocabulary, and characters which are basically stock, then I might be able to do something with your work in the marketplace. Perhaps you have something dealing with housewives who like to fool around on their husbands while dallying in light bondage?
Humorous as that is, it speaks volumes about how unimaginative are the tastes of the mass market (which I’ll save for future discussion). And it brings to mind a serious point about what we’ll choose to publish in TLR. We originally entertained the idea of TLR because both Kelly and I believe that professional-quality creative writing deserves fair compensation, and our journal is a bit of a grand experiment to see if it’s possible for writers and publishers, working together, to sustain that concept. But as we began to plan, we also realized the opportunity we had to publish writers who aren’t interested in mimicking what’s popular, but in exploring writing that lies beyond those boundaries. Rejections like the one I received Friday (and I get a lot of those “encouraging” rejections) only make me more eager to pursue our literary adventure.
More real soon…