They Don’t Sell

Remember, kids, nobody will publish your short story collection unless you’re already an established author, because they don’t sell.

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Retrospective Re-evaluation of Success to Give the Illusion of Struggle

“His novel sold well. “It was an okay living from the first day,” he said. But, he adds, “I was not an immediate success. I was an immediate cult hit. It was really 10 years before I was what you would call a real success. People mis-remember it. They think it happened overnight. It didn’t. Within the genre, yes I was known and became a best selling author. But it took 10 years to really make it.”” Read more »

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He Struggled for Years Without Success Before Deciding to Quit. Then This Happened!

FARMINGTON NM–Robert Pritchard’s dream from childhood was to become a writer.  He wrote something like ten novels over twenty years, plus dozens of short stories.  He submitted them to many publishers and agents, without luck.

“A few short stories were published in obscure venues, for like ten or twenty dollars” he said.  “They were all either magazines that were brand new, and so no one more established was submitting to them yet, or ones that were on the verge of going out of business, which they usually did immediately after my story appeared.”   Read more »

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See If You Can Imagine What I Might Say About This Kind of Thing

Rejection is the norm for authors. So why do we hide it?

Huge deals and fairytales are sexy anomalies – almost all writers face setbacks, they’re an important part of the creative process


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What Have You Been Reading Lately? (Updated May 27, 2020)

Interview given by Tea Obreht, March 4, 2011:

Q: What have you been reading recently?

A: The book I read most recently is Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, which was really fun and pleasurable to read. I also read Touch by Alexi Zentner and I loved Swamplandia!. (

Pettigrew: published November 2010. Touch: April 2011.  Swamplandia: February 2011

Is it really plausible that this person reads and recommends only new books?   Read more »

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Million Word Theory

In the 2000 movie Boiler Room, a recruiter, Ben Affleck, gives a roomful of prospective employees this pitch: 
“If you become an employee of this firm you will make your first million within three years.  Okay?  I’m gonna repeat that: you will make a million dollars within three years of your first day of employment at J.T. Marlin.  There is no question you will become a millionaire working here.  The only question is how many times over.”

I don’t doubt this is true of certain professions, like working for shady pump-and-dump microcap stock fraud brokerage houses.  But there’s gotta be a catch, right, or everybody would do it. 

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Annals of Superhuman Persistence, Vol. VII

All successful writers went through immense suffering and agonizingly long periods of rejection before becoming successful.  We know this because they constantly tell us.  But what did this suffering consist of, and how does it compare with the suffering of unsuccessful writers?

In 2015 George Saunders wrote some recollections of his early years in an MFA program and subsequent experiences trying to write.  He describes how after he was admitted to the program he abandoned his early type of stories and focused on writing boring, mediocre, realistic stories that were “Hemingway imitations.”   Read more »

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I’m always interested in where books were written, so here is a thing about where I wrote some books.

From late 2010 to March 2012 I wrote a novel called “The Dream Devours the World” in San Diego, in my apartment–

sd apartment

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The Next Re-Edit

You must learn the ways of the midichlorians, if you’re to come with me to Alderaan.

Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not. For my ally is the midichlorians, and a powerful ally they are. Life creates them, makes them grow. Their energy surrounds us, and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the midichlorians around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere.

A Jedi uses the midichlorians for knowledge and defense, never for attack.

A Jedi’s strength flows from the midichlorians. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression: the dark side of the midichlorians are they.

I felt a great disturbance in the midichlorians, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

The midichlorians are strong with this one.

Through the midichlorians, things you will see, other places, the future, the past, old friends long gone.

Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the midichlorians.

Vader was seduced by the dark side of the midichlorians.

The midichlorians are what give the Jedi his power. They’re microscopic life-forms within all living cells. They surround us and penetrate us, they bind the galaxy together.

Remember, the midichlorians will be with you, always.

Use the midichlorians, Luke!

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Notions, Concepts, and Ideas

In “Annie Hall,” when they go to LA, at a party at Paul Simon’s house, one “Hollywood player” is heard saying to another, “Right now it’s just a notion, but I think I can get the money to make it a concept, and later turn it into an idea.”  We know that the recent Star Wars movie “Rogue One” was greenlit by Disney based on John Knoll pitching them on “a movie about the spies who steal the Death Star plans.”  Well, “a movie about the spies who steal the Death Star plans” isn’t an idea. Read more »

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