Saturday, October 30, 2004

I have lots of excuses for why I haven't posted here in awhile. Lots. There's the "my neck went out" excuse. Then the ever trusty "my computer crashed" excuse, to boot. Then there's the less commonly used "We found an ant colony living in our electrical power strip" excuse. Weird, but true. So now that we've gotten excuses out of the way, we can just be here--you and I--together, sharing the trauma and joys of being a writer. Otherwise known as "Are you fucking crazy?"

Well, yes and no. I think that perhaps I have written off Hallmark-ish cliches for too long, and now it's time to start adopting them. Let us being with, "When one door closes, another one opens." This is my oblique way of letting you know that I have officially given notice at work (albeit, it's two months notice, but still...). And as I sat facing the gaping maw of the future, wondering if I was crazy to think that little ole me could pull off something as large as writing for a living, things have begun to sprout. There is the out of the blue editing gig that came indirectly via my stepmother, which looks very promising. There is the desired result, after sitting through two interviews, for a job with a startup magazine that I wasn't sure how I would work out, but knew I wanted to be a part of (I wanted a freelance position)...they've decided I would make a perfect freelance contributing literary editor, doing interviews and profiles. It is such a good fit for me and I am so excited. There is the column for the Petaluma Argus-Courier and other improved connections with new writing outlets...and I've tallied up all that I'm owed for projects already completed and I've already earned my first "paycheck" for January...

Things are okay.

There's the situation with my being now non-agented of course...but I think I'm just going to put my heart back into one more solid revision of my most recent novel, despite its having been shopped around a bit, and seek a new agent very soon. I thought I was going to begin a new novel but I realize that until I see this process through to the end, I'm silly to expend all that energy.

This is all to tell you I am back on my horse, if I ever truly fell off... Can you believe it? Positive words from me?

It's true folks. It's utterly true.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

On Being a (Literary) Outsider

I call it Insider Envy. The only way to recognize it is to be an outsider. To be inside is to be swayed by the fancy furniture, the snug, elite shoulder-brushing with other insiders, the various and assorted badges one gets to pin, shiny and new-smelling, to one's fashionably unique insider-self. It is only from the vantage point of the outsider—at a long, cold distance from that which is trendily exclusive that one can see exactly what one is missing.

I have always been an outsider. From the ruthless geometry of kindergarten four-square (afraid of the ball) to the Banana Republic attired chic-ettes of my college days (problems with color coordination), there has always been a clique I could only watch but never join. I coveted the outdoors jocks—but my skin was too pasty, my muscles too jiggly. There were the art house bohemians—but cigarettes made me cough, and I couldn't tell Kandinsky from Miro. But never have I been more of an outsider since the day I decided to be a writer (publicly that is). I've written longer than I've done anything else, but coming forth into the boisterious roadhouse chaos of the modern writing scene has been to stand, unknown and alone, jostling for a drink as those with hardcover first novel sales, articles in The Believer magazine, exclusive invitations to 826 Valencia Street parties and other kinds of clout crowd the bar.

The truth about being an outsider is that you always want to be an insider. I desperately wanted to be one of those under-30 ingenue first novelists who garner loads of attention and quotes from the big leaguers, who get sent on 25 city book tours and have cocktails with the greats in the lobbies of New York hotels. Now that I'm 30 it's not as sexy. Even if I were to sell a novel in the next five years, even though I have no kids, I'm still more soccer mom, less sparkly-eyed literati.

I then would have settled for landing a piece of dazzling short fiction in any one of a handful of top literary magazines. I dreamed of my byline in the New Yorker, The Paris Review but settled for publications that accepted "camera-ready" work.

Now I stand, with my cheeks pressed against the glass of McSweeney's, the Believer, New York's KGB Bar wondering what I could do to get in:

--Fake a tell-all memoir replete with celebrity-author dirt and slander?
--Lie that I had sex with Dave Eggers?
--Use my radio show as a forum to create my own movement, one that is elite, hip, crowded with people of letters and existing only in my head?

If you would like to help me find my way in to any one of the tres chic, hermeneutically sealed literary cliques, send your ideas to:

Next installment: What happens to an outsider who becomes an insider?

Friday, October 15, 2004

"If science will not seek human meaning, and if interpreters (critics, anthropologists, etc.) study human events and human artifacts only, then who will tell us the meaning of the raw universe? By the raw universe I mean here all that we experience, all things cultural and natural, all of the universe that is known, given, made and changing: the world, and they that dwell therein."
--Annie Dillard from "Living by Fiction."

(The answer is: our fiction writers!)

Things of mine to read...

I've got fiction live at: Literary Mama, SmokeLong Quarterly and an interview which aired on Word by Word has been transcribed at AlterNet. Links to all these publications are on the left of my blog.

Otherwise, I'm feeling prickly and tense because of all this election friction. It's making it hard to focus, strangely. I never thought of myself as susceptible to political influences except on the tiniest of scales. Howard Zinn said it best though. This is one of the most dangerous, if not THE most dangerous, administrations in the history of this country. It warrants a few existential prickles of fear. I really, REALLY want John Kerry to win. More than I've wanted anything in a long time. More than I want a book published or recognition or fame...

As for writing...I'm doing a lot of it. November I will begin in earnest my next novel. I'm very seriously considering sending off chapters of my two novels to small publishers like Seal Press and otherwise. I think it's time to check in with the ole' agent about what to do now.

I'll update you when I've done so.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The fabulous Katie Stohlmann has fixed my html problems...because she is a whiz kid. She's not really a "kid" but I pull rank because I am older. Now that I am thirty I feel like I need to exercise some sort of agist attitude, the kind that has been pulled on me for so long. Nothing like someone two years older than you saying, "oh you're such a baby!" For fuck's sake!

Things are gearing up in the New Plan to Write Full Time. I am positively itchy, like having senioritist again, with the desire to get to it and leave the job behind me. I will miss the job, yes. I will miss the people. But not the constant feeling that I'm not doing enough, that there is always something slipping through the cracks, and that I am ultimately, a failure.

I haven't reported on the status of being agented in some time because there has been nothing new, except a thousand versions of what I will do next, to share with you. From his end, there is nothing but static. I think he's probably similarly trying to figure out how to shed me from his client list. And I owe the *#@%^ for copies too, damn it.

Nonetheless, I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month in November, at least, trying to. I must write that new novel. It's been harranguing me for a long time anyway.

I am not the good blogger. I apologize.


P.S. Do check out AlterNet ( this coming Tuesday for an article of mine on The Freeway Blogger ( and join in "National Freeway Free Speech Day: Driving America to Think" on October 13th. Put up a sign in quiet protest about your feelings on the state of politics, various and assorted tyrannies on other countries who shall remain nameless, and the general blanket of darkness that has fallen in this country since 2000. Please?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

October Update from Write Livelihood—
"Living Through Language"

Jordan E. Rosenfeld: Writer, Teacher & Editor for hire * * 707-235-0705

Word by Word on KRCB 90.9/91.1 or
streaming at - Click the "Listen" button at top.

October 6th at 7 pm: Jordan speaks to the founder of National Novel Writing Month, Chris Baty—now the author of "No Plot, No Problem!" (Chronicle Books), plus Ben Marcus, the editor of "The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories." You'll also receive the extra treat of "Searchlights & Signal Flares"—helping writers find their way in the dark—a feature in collaboration with Susan Bono and her journal of personal essay, Tiny Lights (

October 20th at 7 pm: Jordan speaks to author Annabel Davis-Goff, a native from County Waterford, Ireland and author of "The Dower House", "This Cold Country" and most recently, "The Fox's Walk." She is contributor to a book of essays about the author William Maxwell with whom she was good friends and she teaches at Bennington College.

Associate producer Tania Ketenjian will speak with Roya Hakakian, who has collaborated on over a dozen hours of programming for some of the most prestigious journalism units on network television including 60 Minutes Sunday and 60 Minutes II as well as on A& E's "Travels With Harry" hour. Her new novel is "Journey From the Land of No." Plus, the gilded word-workings of "Wordplay" a collaboration with Susan Starbird ( in which the play of language is emphasized.


Saturday, November 6th, 2004, 11-2: "The Art of the Query."
The business of writing is always the least fun but the serious writer must eventually move from isolated creativity into the public eye. A query letter is your first contact with agents, editors and publishers. Even more, learning to write queries is a process that can teach you how to get to the heart of your work. Just like a blind date, those first words make or break your chance of successful contact, getting a writing job, agent or publishing opportunity. This class can be useful to you if you're ready to make the leap to:

§ Find a literary agent
§ Solicit a publisher with a book proposal
§ Query a magazine about a freelance article

We'll focus most on how to write airtight queries, but the class will include tips for the non-fiction proposal and query “pitches” for freelance work. There will be in-class writing. $45.
Call 829-4797 to sign-up, or 235-0705 for details. Make Checks payable to Sebastopol Center for the Arts: 6780 Depot Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472 or email:

Writing Group Forming in January. Interested? Questions? Email me:

Short Fiction and articles by Jordan will appear at the following places in October:

Edifice Wrecked- October 1 (

Literary Mama—October 15 ( )

Smokelong Quarterly-October 15 ( )

Petaluma Magazine—October 20 Around Petaluma—"Movies in Petaluma" feature.

** Storyhouse: More than a can of beans! To order any of Storyhouse's fabulous coffees, with Jordan's short story "Shopping" on the label, follow these instructions. This is time sensitive. Your orders must be purchased before October 13th!

1. Click on the "our coffees" tab at the top of our page. This should take you to our coffee catalog.

2. Select any bean type from the table on the left (either Decafs, Organics, or Fancy) - explanations of bean types are in the text on the right.

3. Select any coffee that looks interesting to see the full description. Or just select the "add to cart" button to add the coffee to your shopping cart.

4. Now here are the IMPORTANT parts: A small pop-up window should appear with various options.

a) Make sure you pick the RIGHT LABEL/Storyline: LEARNED BEANS

b) Pick the shipment START DATE: October 13th

c) Unless you intend to sign up for a regular subscription with discount, just pick "one time only" for your delivery frequency.

d) Click on the "add to cart button"

5. To view your shopping cart and to finish checking out, click on the "shopping cart" button on the main page to see what you've ordered so far and follow the "checkout" instructions for entering in your credit card info, etc.

Thanks for keeping in touch.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Night Train, Issue 4. It's a knockout. Posted by Hello

The amazing Night Train Magazine is a force to be reckoned with. Check out your local stores for Issue 4. And visit their website: to hear the Word by Word interview with Editors Sue Henderson and Tom Jackson, which aired in September.

Want to find out how to help sponsor Night Train coming to Petaluma for its next rail stop? Email me: