upon further review ...

This is a recent review of my book, Punishing Ugly Children, in the St. John's Telegram (click on the image to zoom). The reviewer is very kind. As I said to Janine (the very helpful Janine, who puts out all the fires at my publisher's), it should make my mom happy, at least until she actually reads the book, and then she'll just be confused.

While it's always weird to see your name in print, I don't get very excited about this kind of thing. Which of course drives C a little nuts. She would have this made into a t-shirt, or repeated in skywriting, or in fireworks. With Hawaiian dancers. But let me explain.

Four months ago, just before I went off on parental leave, I made a big push to send out as much work as possible; in those last two weeks I submitted 29 stories to 28 different magazines (still leaving a pile of about 40 other stories sitting in their shoe box, dusty and wanting). I also submitted two things to contests, even though I am usually *loathe* to do so (I once listened to an editor refer to the kind of people who enter writing contests as "suckers"; regardless of even that, contests are always judged by other writers, who are often completely selfish or nuts). So far I have heard back from 15 magazines. Three stories were accepted for publication.

At first glance that's pretty good: a 20% success rate. But let me tell you, it does look good for those other 13 magazines. They represent something of a desert; I will probably never hear from most if not all of them. So I'll wait a year, and then cross them off the list. And that drives the success rate down to a very humble 11%.

And that's why I don't get very excited. That bulging plastic file of rejection letters, that list of titles which disappeared into the ether.

Oh well; at least I was a finalist in one of the two contests. But here's the real ass-cracker: it's getting harder and harder to compete with all these kids from these graduate programs in creative writing. They've got money, they've got time, and they *really* want to be famous. Meanwhile, I can barely remember garbage night.


p.s. The book is printed and being shipped. I'll be posting details about my launch (and how to get the book if you live outside Kingston) tout de suite.


  1. VERY EXCITING! and you are no sucker. you are a maker. and that makes all the difference.

  2. Bravo and Congratulations DJ! and, i have to agree with C, can we print out the cover of the book and make t-shirts? you have to be glad that i am not there. i would make a big sculpture of the book and put it on top of a cake and throw a surprise party for and then make a long rambling toast to you and know my job was fully done when your eye rolling got so bad you fainted.

    but, all that aside, I really do what you are talking about. my mom recently found a "secret" box of local, national, and internal newspapers-all with saying great things about my work and all with photos of my art or of me at the show with my art-the first one of me in college getting and award for "student artist of the year" for fairy tale evening dresses i made and hung in the end of the year show(what? evening gowns as art? and they won? wiggy wiggy what? why the heck did she put each gown in its own little environment that went with the story of the dress?)-the problem? i wasn't even an art major or minor which ticked off many an art major student. i was taking one photography class and one printmaking class. i am doing my best fake smile in the photo(and wearing one of my fancy thrift store outfits that i still wear today)i had no idea that the big city paper would find all of this so interesting-i was embarassed. she was in awe and then angry. my mom didn't understand that i still considered(and still do) myself as mostly a failure because of my own "bulging" flat file of pieces that didn't make it.

    but, i think that is part of what makes us "us". if we could "toot our own horns" we might be jerks. we are hard on ourselves and our art which is what keeps us going.

    we should let the folks in our lives celebrate for us and you do deserve this so let it be(and let the fireworks begin and i do want that t-shirt! don't worry, i will add on the back 'DJ SUCKS'). most creative types have 1 piece that makes it for every 100, 200, or 1,000 that don't-it is just the way that it always has been.

    as far as young and upcoming writers/artists go, well, they have no manners(ok, generalizes is never good so sorry)! i think having to grow and create your own your own style and stories from life experiences will always trump more classes/degrees and all that and you have that in spades!

    longish and super excited for you!,

  3. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on this book. Hope I don't have to resort to Amazon. Congratulations!

  4. I'm with C. Definitely Hawaiian dancers. Maybe some show ponies too

    I've added you to my essential Spring/Summer reading, so will be looking forward to the details

    Well done you!

  5. p,s, I would buy the tee shirt.

  6. Susan: thank you!

    Merle: if anyone epitomizes the freewheeling fun of creativity for its own sake, it's you. ;}

    Kim: you're very kind. No, you won't have to resort to Amazon, I promise.

    Kaz: always a star.

  7. I have to check out your new book! Wow, you wrote a book. Wow. (Thank you for visiting my Blog. I appreciate your comment.) ~Kathy

  8. Soo true about contests

    but your a star, keep writing!!!

  9. congrats on your new book!! it's a great accomplishment.....go ahead and make those t-shirts and take some time to celebrate!! :))
    p.s. thanks for stopping by my blog!

  10. Anonymous9:27 pm

    Congrats on the article. Looking forward to purchasing your book sometime in the future, once I sell some art, and that is definitely happening in Sept & Oct or else heads will roll. Gotta think positive! :-)


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