The Rejection Quilt

Being quiet around here means I’ve been dealing with a lot of rejection and getting angrier than I should:



There is really no reason for this seething because: 1) This is nothing new to me, 2) I know it isn’t personal, 3) there are tons of submissions, and of course, 4) publication is largely a luck of the draw, depending on who is reading, what that person likes, the mood they’re in, the point they are in their life, and all these other variables that are well beyond my control. See? I’m being levelheaded. And yet.

Melissa and I were talking recently about how we should make quilts out of our rejections. To keep us warm at night. I sometimes think about making an Excel spreadsheet of all my rejections and acceptances, but realize that may only exacerbate my problem. This is the literary rabbit hole: We’re all mad here, Alice.

Here are some good things that actually haven’t made me feel crazy:

I’ve missed reading submissions. I like to see what people are trying to write, what kind of vibes are out there in the literary zeitgeist. You can distinguish patterns after a while. I’ve thought again and again about starting my own literary journal, but I always decide against it. It’s a huge commitment and I think I’d just rather spend more time working on my own writing instead.

I’ve been using Ello as more of an unfiltered brain collage. Like Twitter but with less people scrolling through. I told Facebook how I was enjoying it because no one is there. This was something I posted:

I don’t know how I feel about social media anymore. I used to love it (genuinely and unironically) back in the days of MySpace and Livejournal, but I have a much more bittersweet relationship to it all now. I think this is mostly because: 1. There is so much content and noise to filter through that it hardly seems worth the time, and 2. there’s not very much dialogue, despite there being plenty of words. I used to have a much better sense of community too, which is something I thought was not very important to me. How things change.

I guess I don’t really know where to put the words anymore. What goes where? Does it matter? Won’t it achieve the same result if I just scribble to myself in a notebook? I’ve never been the writer who thinks about audience or even thinks about having an audience at all. I just do it to do it. Social media isn’t about promotion for me, it’s about productive discussion and connecting to people who might make good friends someday. Not even readers, necessarily.

It’s October already. The year is disappearing. I made a new mix tape on 8tracks that’s all about witches and witchcraft:

[8tracks width=”300″ height=”250″ playops=”” url=”″]

The Weather Sleeps and the Nights Stay Awake

This year has been both fast and quite strange. The weather is cooling down for once and being consistent with its pleasant breezes, which never happens during the “winter” holidays in Florida. Usually it is sweltering and uncomfortable and I’m unable to wear all the jackets I want to.

I started being brave. I sent out my writing to all different places. Now I can’t stop. I’ve written essays, articles, short stories, poetry. I got published both online and in print publications. I got paid sometimes for this, which was exciting. I’ve received contributor’s copies. I’ve made a lot of new writer friends that I wish I could meet in real life. Maybe someday. For now, it will have to be letters and emails and tweets.

My friend Kelsey has been putting together an online magazine that features interviews with all kinds of artists. She has been rolling out a lot of them lately. You can read it here. You should also read Thistle Magazine because it’s gorgeous.

Speaking of gorgeous magazines, here is the inaugural issue of Foxing Quarterly:

If you look closely, you might see something special. Hint: Notice the books.

The first issue features my poem, “Settling on a Freckled Shoulder.” There was even a release party at a bookstore in Austin, Texas to celebrate. Music, readings, food. I really wish I could have gone. But I will let you all know where you can get your hands on a copy once I get mine. The cover is by Jim Rugg.

I also put together another mix tape to go with this peaceful weather and I hope you like it:

The Week the Weather Slept from josephdante on 8tracks Radio.

Paper Storm

I’m not a hoarder. I like to keep my surroundings relatively spacious or skeletal, depending on how you see things. I’m even thinking about trading or giving away most of my books. The ones that I feel like I can part with, that is. I don’t need very much.

One thing I do tend to collect is paper. Stacks, towers. Folders and drawers bursting full. Filled with old stories that have been written on by other students, receipts and bank statements from years ago, postcards from my high school peers that I’ve lost contact with completely, notes from in between (or during) classes, letters from pen pals on the opposite side of the world, torn envelopes from my late cousin when he was in a correctional facility, cards from my various graduations and parties.

Mom hoards things for the holidays. One of my favorites is Halloween. When I was little, I won costume contests a lot because my mom would put my outfits together herself. She was clever, but I didn’t make it easy. I would always choose characters from video games that no one recognized, like Kung Lao and Geno. The rim of Lao’s hat was tin foil.

Usually my dad turns our garage into a haunted house and trick-or-treaters come and take a look. But this year, he is trying to throw a party. My mom finds this hilarious. I’m in charge of making a brew of pumpkin juice and cups of dirt (crumbled Oreo + pudding) with gummy worms. We’ll see how this all works out.

My mom is much more traditional than I am. She treats the holidays very seriously and she believes in them like a part of a heritage. Paper is becoming an old medium of expression. Paper is the oldest thing I cling to. It is ancient and even mythical, much like the stories behind these particular times of the year. Computers are convenient, and I do use them a lot, but I still like to have the stacks around. I don’t think I’ll ever be any other kind of hoarder.

One of my poems is going to be published in the first issue of Foxing Quarterly. This is my first poem ever that is going to be in a print publication. Excitement from everywhere, although another thing to collect and keep. I promise I will get rid of some books soon.

Thinking of old friends and all the chaos from the paper clutter, I made a mix called “Passing Notes.” It’s funny and sad and serious and not too serious all at once:

Passing Notes from josephdante on 8tracks Radio.

Word Dealing

It’s been a while, but fortunately, I’ve done a few things during this blog hiatus.

Recently, my short piece, “Word Dealer,” was published in the second issue of Paper and the Sea. My amazing friend Angela provided the cover art and some writing as well. It all came out gorgeous. You can read it in its entirety online, or you can purchase a print copy of the issue to have it on your shelf.

I also wrote a guest post about gender and publishing for ReadLearnWrite. Nothing new for some, but it may come as a surprise to others. I’ve written about it before elsewhere, and I think it deserves a mention every now and again.

About two months ago, I’d fallen really ill, and in the meantime, I watched a lot of DVDs in bed. One of these was Kiki’s Delivery Service, one of my all-time favorite children’s movies. Becoming fairly restless after being stuck under the covers for so long, I wrote a feverish essay about it and sent it over to Bright Wall, Dark Room. They ended up publishing it recently, and you can read it if you’d like.

I’ve been getting more into 8tracks as well (writing with some background noise), and made another mix tape. It features female vocalists (what else?) and electronic music.

Go listen:

Estrogen-Infused Android from josephdante on 8tracks.

Black Sheep

My sister hasn’t read much of my writing, but she does seem to like to ask me how much is about her. She laughs and calls herself my biggest inspiration. I’ve told her how I’ve written about her before, sure, but she likes to annoy me about it every once in a while anyway. She’s a person who reminds you again and again that she’s there and won’t be leaving very soon.

Last night, when we were going for a walk, my mom turned to us and remarked how we were the artists of the family. Where did we come from? I asked. She doesn’t know, she said. But there you have it. Paula has always been about the visuals and the aesthetics, and I’ve always been about the fantasies and the theories. Paula likes fashion and design, shininess and volume and bright colors, drawing and painting and photography and the process of capturing nature. I’m into books and fictional characters, subtlety and softness and sepia understatedness, ideas and alternate realities and mixing up fabrications in hopes of maybe going beyond just the plain truth. We are quite different in what we make and how we do it, and we are quite different in spirit.

But there’s still a kindredness. Sometimes, we make things together anyway and collaborate. Sometimes I do write things about people like her. Right now, I’m working on a poem and a short story about a sister who likes shiny things too, and her name is Raven. Glitter boots and feather boas and cupcakes with silver sprinkles.

Sometimes she draws things from books that I’ve read, like this:

And books that she’s read: