The Rejectionist

Being a teenage girl is not all about your fucked-up relationship with food or losing your virginity to the wrong boy. The strange and romantic world of female friendships, falling in love with science or art or music, the slow discovery of the things you’ll be passionate about for your whole life—these are the stories that are woefully absent from those shelves. I remember the first time I heard the Pixies, and Hüsker Dü, and Team Dresch, and the world split open and revealed itself to me. The first rock shows I ever went to—I think I still have the ticket stubs somewhere, that’s how momentous those occasions were. Or the first time I saw a Hal Hartley movie (Amateur, it was playing at MOMA, a glorious 35mm print) and I felt like suddenly I understood what a movie was, and what a movie could do. I spent my adolescence making things, zines and t-shirts and mix tapes and paintings, I was constantly covered in glitter and glue, always writing in my journal or sending someone a letter. And the terrible understanding that eventually I was going to be in charge of the whole operation—nutrition, bank accounts, my temper, my clothes. All of that is still imprinted on me somewhere—some of it is still happening—and it’s as important as any of the heartbreak and self-loathing and insecurity considered so typical of those years. And it would be nice if literature could recognize that the first two-thirds of my life were as valid an experience as, say, Holden Caulfield’s.
—  Chérie l’Ecrivain (Cristina Moracho), from “on Teenage Blood Running in Our Veins” (x)
New York: possibly the only place, in the end, that is large enough to hold some of us, who are too much of one thing and not enough of another, too much crazy or queer or fat or brown or feather-peacock flamboyant or faggy, too much of that and not enough of toe the line, low profile, play it cool, another day older and deeper in debt, not enough of the kind of patience needed to endure an ordinary life. Lining up like supplicants, like pilgrims, like lepers expecting miracles, like fools.
— 

sarah mccarry (the rejectionist), glossolalia #13, ‘i want to tell you about living in new york’

(for shakespeareandpunk, and for princehal9000, who’s already being dragged unwittingly into our dream-schemes)

Ambition is like a poison and a gift tangled together and it makes you leave and leave and leave again, leave places, leave people, leave your whole life. Ambition and something else that I don’t know how to name but it’s what I share my house with, the house of my body, ambition and something that is ruthless and cruel and says only, ever, Is that a good story, and if the answer is no it says Move on. The best we can hope for is to be good enough to justify how brutal we are. The summer after I graduated I had no idea what I was in for or what I had started, no idea where that move would take me, no idea that I would come out the other end transformed. Not a butterfly but a vulture or maybe on my better days a bird of prey. When you are a woman or a girl or female no one says to you Look, artists who are great take without asking and take and take and do not apologize because when you are a woman or a girl or female the only thing you are supposed to take is a lot of other people’s shit. No one says to you Be sure you are strong enough to take and not apologize and keep going when the taking leaves you nothing to go back to. Be sure you are strong enough to steal and live alone with what you’ve chosen to make yours.
My friend was having a hard time finishing his first book, so to help he started thinking about finishing the manuscript like fixing the sink. When you are fixing the sink you do not say oop, this is so hard! I’ll come back in a year. Or geez wait, is this actually a washing machine? Have I been doing dishes in the washing machine? Nope, you just work until the sink is fixed, possibly with a sandwich break or something, and then you move on. You do not dwell.
—  Mairead Case, interviewed about depression’s effect on writing routines, for The Rejectionist
NOW IMAGINE YOUR BRAIN IS THE NEW PUPPY. Oh! Do you see what we did there! It’s called an Analogy, very effective, also works in fiction. YOUR BRAIN IS THE PUPPY. If your brain is anything like our brain, it poops in your laundry hamper A LOT (in this sentence, “poops in the laundry hamper” is secretly an analogy for “obsessive circular thinking”). It freaks out! It gets super mopey and stares out the window! It tells you that you are No Good and then makes you eat an entire package of Newman-O’s, sending you into a downward spiral of sugar crisis! Right? Your brain does this! Don’t lie! WE KNOW YOU. What is the answer to this desparate situation? You need to WORK WITH THE PUPPY THAT IS YOUR BRAIN.
— 

The Rejectionist | Sarah McCarry: Today’s Exercise in Self-Soothing

because more days than not, my brain is absolutely the puppy.

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fangirl meme: male characters [6/25]

"If one was to sneer at how Waver had only begged for his life, then one simply did not know of the remorselessness of the King of Heroes. Simply being alive after resisting his terror was a conflict, and a victory. It was the first time Waver Velvet had gained a victory in a challenge by himself.

It was an unsightly and very small battle. It was far from brave, or spectacular. No one yielded to him, and he obtained no plunder. The only thing he did was survive and escape from a dilemma.

Even so, Waver was happy. He was proud. Only Waver himself could understand how priceless it was for him to arrive at that impossible conclusion under those circumstances. That honour was in him only. Even if it appeared unsightly to an onlooker, there was no reason to feel ashamed.

He complied with the order of the King. He saw everything through to the end, and lived on.”

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resurfacing briefly to say look what came in today’s post!

direct from nyc (okay, probably including some pretty depressing overnight stops somewhere in the midwest) and the kickass word-warrior that is sarah maccarry (the rejectionist):

glossolalia 13 & 14: personal zines about living in new york city.  handbound, letterpressed covers, editions of 100 in each.

and

guillotine series #1: as mccarry says, “an ongoing series of handbound letterpress-printed chapbooks focusing on revolutionary nonfiction. GUILLOTINE will start off with the face-fucking-melting team of Lidia Yuknavitch and Vanessa Veselka. Every one of these little books will be printed and sewn together by me with love and the willingness to get violent in service of the people’s revolution.” said face-melting first in the series is:

lydia yuknavitch and vanessa veselka - violence: ”The feminine forms we have inherited in terms of sanctified literature pretty much make me want to punch someone in the face”: An expansion of Vanessa Veselka and Lidia Yuknavitch's conversation on women, writing, and violence, which originally appeared online at the Believer blog. Smart, funny, fearless, and life-changing, this dialogue covers hope, Freud, castration, knitting, and a wide variety of bodily functions.

i preordered guillotine # 2: bojan louis - troubleshooting silence in arizona at the same time as i bought these, and i’m looking forward to it showing up as well.

in the meantime, looks like i’ve got some extra incentive to get my coursework outta the way today, so i can get down to reading what promise to be some extremely powerful words from some seriously hero-status worthy ladies. ( i like writing that’s incendiary, that punches you in the gut at the same time as flinging bloody hunks of itself down for you to inspect up close, that’s brave enough to hide nothing, best.  i have a feeling i won’t be let down.)

A guy found me in a bar downtown and told me the story of his life, the way they do. I didn’t tell him any stories of my own. I wouldn’t have even if he’d bothered to ask. “But in the end, it’s best to be honest about what you are,” he said, reflecting on the foibles he’d outlined for me. “We’re all polished turds.” “Speak for yourself,” I said, and he looked startled to realize I had a voice. “I’m diamond all the way through.”
—  Sarah McCarry

My illness is an inextricable part of me. It doesn’t define me, but it’s part of my definition; I wouldn’t be the person I am without it. And it’s not a blessing or some sort of magical things, as many people seem to think with mental illness and creative people—my mental illness doesn’t make me any more creative than eating lentils for dinner does. It’s just a thing that I live with, and something I manage to make sure it doesn’t eat me alive, which it often very much wants to do—I’ve compared it to a monster inside me, but it’s also like a tiger in my living room. Content to sit around not doing much of anything, until it decides to do something, and you can’t predict when that’s going to happen.

I ate my potato salad and when my old housemates asked me how I liked New York I said “I like it a lot,” and then they changed the subject, and I thought about how shitty a person I must be to hate all of them for being happy when what we had wanted was to be extraordinary. I drank a pint of someone else’s whiskey in the hostess’s bathroom and played the piano, badly, with the twenty-year-old, and everyone was relieved when I left.
— 

But ambition is like a poison and a gift tangled together and it makes you leave and leave and leave again, leave places, leave people, leave your whole life. Ambition and something else that I don’t know how to name but it’s what I share my house with, the house of my body, ambition and something that is ruthless and cruel and says only, ever, Is that a good story, and if the answer is no it says Move on. The best we can hope for is to be good enough to justify how brutal we are. The summer after I graduated I had no idea what I was in for or what I had started, no idea where that move would take me, no idea that I would come out the other end transformed. Not a butterfly but a vulture or maybe on my better days a bird of prey. When you are a woman or a girl or female no one says to you Look, artists who are great take without asking and take and take and do not apologize because when you are a woman or a girl or female the only thing you are supposed to take is a lot of other people’s shit. No one says to you Be sure you are strong enough to take and not apologize and keep going when the taking leaves you nothing to go back to. Be sure you are strong enough to steal and live alone with what you’ve chosen to make yours.


-What I Did the Summer After I Graduated


There just isn’t any other blog on the whole of the internet that hits me in the gut the way The Rejectionist does.  Crying into my coffee with the recognition and the want this brings out in me. 

…I wanted to say do you not understand the difference between vitriol and boredom, I have no vitriol left in me other than for rush hour on the Q, I’m just very bored with being told I do not exist, very bored and also very tired. Tired all the way down to my motherfucking bones. Tired like the time I was talking about speculative fiction with someone I respected who makes a lot more money than I do—like a lot more—writing [about men], who told me he never teaches Octavia Butler because she is too polemic and in my whole heart I was done and either you understand why or you don’t, and if you don’t I am thirty-five years old and too motherfucking tired to explain it to you…
A YA Op-Ed Mad Lib by The Rejectionist

IS YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE RUINING OUR CHILDREN? A TRICK QUESTION
by [YOUR NAME]
Now, first of all, let me be clear: I don’t actually read YA—I just skimmed the jacket copy for The Hunger Games in the bookstore. YA is for babies, and I’m no baby! I’m a [PRESTIGIOUS CAREER]. But, like other adults, I can’t help but [ADVERB] [VERB] about young people today and their [PLURAL NOUN]. The kids are so [ADJECTIVE] that they’re practically snorting [NOUN] and having [ADJECTIVE] sex on my lawn! You know why? Smutty, smutty young adult books, is why! Kids tainted by the current crop of teen-oriented filth will waste no time in engaging in a wide variety of self-destructive behaviors, such as [TYPE OF EATING DISORDER], [ING VERB] their [PLURAL BODY PART], dabbling in witchcraft, and setting fire to [PLURAL NOUN]. I’ve heard these books even turn kids homosexual!
You know what I miss? The Good Old Days, that magical time in the [DECADE IN THE PAST] when [PLURAL NOUN] knew their place, teenagers didn’t even know what [NOUN] was, and writers wrote books that were [ADJECTIVE]. Nothing makes me feel better than conjuring up fallacious images of an illusory past, populated exclusively with white, upper-middle-class children who were untarnished paragons of innocence, not these [ADJECTIVE], [ADJECTIVE], [ADJECTIVE] little [PLURAL NOUN] running feral in the streets and “sexting” each other [ADJECTIVE] pictures of themselves! The problem isn’t a hypercommodified culture in the terminal stages of capitalism; problematic dominant-culture representations of marginalized populations; media conglomerates that propagate heteronormative constructions of gender and sexuality; my own projected anxieties; or The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. No, the problem with everything is teenagers reading books for teenagers. In fact, teenagers reading books is just about the most awful thing I can think of, with one exception! There is one book for teens that doesn’t lead to depravity, [ING VERB], and [ING VERB]. That, of course, is my book, which you can buy [LINK TO AMAZON].

What do I think? I think women in Africa are doing a pretty badass job of organizing against genital mutilation and probably do not need a lot of paternalistic bullshit from the daughters of the people who looted their continent, and I think “worldwide subjugation of women” is a problematic sort of code for ISLAM IS COMING FOR OUR WOMEN when the religious terrorists I am actually concerned about are currently hijacking the legislature and running for president in the country I live in, and I don’t know if Jonathan Franzen actually hates women but he sure as fuck can’t write about them, or much else either; I am trying to think of a more relentlessly mediocre and unambitious well-known writer than Jonathan Franzen, and I can’t. I don’t even care whether he hates women; I care that he is boring. I don’t think you need to cut a woman up to hate her; apparently, these days, all you need to do is run for office.
—  Dear Superior Person, The Rejectionist

You guys, The Rejectionist’s book came out yesterday. I don’t know if you know who The Rejectionist is, but you should, and you should probably read this book because I bet it’s just amazing.

From Goodreads:

The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.