Join us this Wednesday, June 11 at our annual Publication Party, celebrating the work of 18 acclaimed writers who teach in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. This festive evening at the Skirball Cultural Center features the diverse voices of our instructors as they read – for five minutes each – fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction they have published over the last year. The night caps off with a complimentary dessert and coffee reception and mingling in the courtyard. Instructors’ books are for sale courtesy of Book Soup, and teachers may even sign them if you ask nicely. We’ll see you there!
Getting work published can be a long, difficult road. We asked for some insight from a few pros who will read their work at the event this Wednesday: fiction writer Lou Mathews, fiction/nonfiction writer Daniel M. Jaffe, and poet/fiction writer Rachel Kann. How do these instructors approach publishing? Read on and see.
Q: What’s the best publishing advice you’ve ever received?
Lou Mathews: “Ray Carver, a former teacher, once told our class: ‘You may not publish your story where you want, or when you want, but if the story is any good it will eventually be published.'”
Daniel M. Jaffe: “Get your first novel published by any respectable publisher willing to publish it, even if the publisher’s not your first choice. (This advice was given to me by best-selling Russian author Dina Rubina.)”
Rachel Kann: “When bad things happen, cut your losses and get off the sinking ship.”
Q: Have you received any memorable rejections for work you sent out? What advice would you give students about persevering despite rejection?
Mathews: “My first serious rejection letter was two pages from George Plimpton at The Paris Review and though I lost the letter years ago I can still remember his indignation and one quote that has stayed with me, ‘… what I finally could not abide was not knowing through whose eyes you see the story.’ It was years before I understood what he meant.”
Jaffe: “A couple of memorable rejections come to mind. While taking writing courses at Harvard Extension School, a program similar to the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program (although with way fewer course choices), I received the following gems from literary journal editors:
-‘If this is what they teach you at Harvard, flee Massachusetts.’
-‘I don’t usually write to authors whose work I reject, but I just had to tell you how awful your writing is.’
I’ve gone on to publish dozens of short stories and 3 books, including a novel that was a finalist for an award. The lesson: react to rejection by cursing, stomping around, weeping…and writing with greater determination.”
Kann: “My favorite rejection was from McSweeney’s. I had sent in a sestina and an editor wrote me back personally to say he thought my sestina was great and he was bummed the rest didn’t agree with him and publish it. I really thought that was so sweet. It actually felt more sincere than some ‘non-rejections’ I’ve received. They were always publishing sestinas that slightly broke the rules of the meter and end words…oh just a SMIDGE, ya know, and this editor noticed that I was psychotically OCD enough to follow them all the way through.”
What advice would you give students about persevering despite rejection?
Mathews: “Have more than one story out at a time. If you only have one story out, at The New Yorker no doubt, and it comes back, that’s a tragedy that will probably stop you cold for a bit. If it’s one of ten stories out there in the Literary Lottery, one rejection is a blip; you go on. The story I’ll be reading on the 11th, ‘Huevos’ was rejected for nearly twenty years by some of the better Literary magazines in this country, and rightfully so; it has something to offend nearly everyone. It also engendered fierce enthusiasm on the part of some editors, including one at The Hudson Review who quit the magazine in protest when he could not convince his elders that it should be published.”
Join us at the Publication Party for a night of spirited readings, followed by mingling, refreshments, and book signings. This FREE event takes place on June 11, 7pm – 9:30pm (doors open at 7pm), at the Skirball Cultural Center. To RSVP, please email email@example.com or call (310) 794-1846. Parking is complimentary at the Skirball Cultural Center.
Featured readers include: Barbara Abercrombie, Laurel Ann Bogen, Gayle Brandeis, Samantha Dunn, Mona Gable, Phyllis Gebauer, Daniel M. Jaffe, Rachel Kann, Suzanne Lummis, Lou Mathews, Christopher Meeks, Billy Mernit, Jennie Nash, Dennis Palumbo, Emily Rapp, Stephanie Waxman, Antoine Wilson, and Victoria Zackheim.