To You Who Are Doing Rejection Wrong

I’ve been rejected more than you. I don’t know, maybe I haven’t. But I’d be willing to bet I have and I hate gambling. I’ve been a writer knocking on the door of the publishing game for nineteen years, nine books, dozens of short stories, articles, and poems. My failure to success ratio is about one hundred to one and that’s all I’m going to say about that.  The only reason I’m mentioning my rejection rate now is because my long history of hearing “no thank you, not at this time” gives me authority to say to you this: You are doing…

True Lies: The Truth Behind The Ghost Daughter

I’ve been asked enough times lately if The Ghost Daughter is autobiographical to want to address the question before the official release of the novel on July 1. Yes, it is. No, it isn’t. The Ghost Daughter is a novel. A work of fiction. It’s a piece of imagination, woven together in an effort to make a pattern in a chaotic universe. But some of it really happened, though. If you’re interested, here is a short list of scenes in the novel drawn whole cloth from reality: 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake:  Del Rio Beach is a stand-in for Santa Cruz…

There Is No Such Thing as Writer’s Block

There is no such thing as writer’s block. You just don’t feel like writing. So don’t write. Why should you? Unless you are a student tasked with completing an assignment for a grade, there is no reason to write. Unless you are a worker who has to communicate to someone in a written fashion at your job, why write? There is no reason to write. Unless there is a man or woman you love so much that your voice quits when you try to explain. Love letters are important. So unless you are a student, a worker, or in love,…

Blogs I Follow

Two days left on this blog-a-day exercise for September. Stats say that people like it best when I talk about my hair. This is not a blog post about my hair, though a student I don’t even teach told me today he loved my hair and when I asked him if it was because it reminded him of his nana, he said no.  So that was nice. Today I want to take a bow to other blogs I frequent. They don’t fit into any category. They are well written and I like them for different reasons. Maybe you will too, so…

Maxwell Perkins Is My Homeboy

Maxwell Perkins was literary editor to Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. Perkins was responsible for helping forth such classics as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, The Great Gatsby and many more American works that we take for granted as integral to the literary heritage of our country. Maxwell Perkins is perhaps most famous for teasing out the best possible work from recalcitrant, alcoholic, undisciplined writers. I picture him at his desk, so handsome and sure. So knowledgeable and intelligent. You can do this work, he says. I believe in you. What a powerful talisman is a…

Country

Sometimes I think I’d be good at country living. I could live down the road from the guy with the NOUSREAL sign on his lawn And he’d be afraid of me. I would tell fortunes with a twang and Spread Tarot across the kitchen table and Lie when I saw bad news. I would make my own goddamn strawberry ice cream And go whole days without talking to anybody. Then I doze off on the drive and wake up Passing places called Grants Pass and Talent, Nursing blackberry bramble scratches on my elbows. Maureen O’Leary Wanket is the author of…

How to Be Manly for a Year: A Great Yes

Yes is my favorite word. This week marks the one year anniversary of one of the greatest yes answers of my career. When Rachel Miller and Anna McCormally of Giant Squid Books told me they wanted to publish my YA novel How to Be Manly, they offered a big, beautiful yes that changed everything. I always believed in How to Be Manly. It was brilliant to find editors who loved my story too. I wrote How to Be Manly in 2009, inspired by my high school students who were showing amazing integrity and generosity through struggle. Many of these students…

Santa Cruz Is the Jerusalem of My Life

My oldest daughter goes to the same college I did, UC Santa Cruz. We dropped her off today for her second year of school. We helped her move her stuff into her new rental before walking to lunch downtown. She is very pragmatic and well-adjusted and surrounded by nice friends. This post has nothing to do with her and all to do with the effect visiting Santa Cruz has on me every time I go there. Santa Cruz is a place out of space and time. It was a beautiful, strange, horrible, wonderful place to decide what kind of person…

I Pretended to Be a Guy to Get Published

I attended a private Catholic high school for girls, across the street from a private Catholic high school for boys. Students were allowed to take classes at both schools. My mother taught on the girl side, my dad on the boy side. The boy side’s English department ran an annual writing contest. Winners got award and publication in the school literary magazine. It was a project of the boy side teachers, therefore only boys could submit work for consideration. The girl side had no such thing going on. I thought this was bullshit. I wrote a story called “Pretty Red Lights”…