Literary Fiction Writer, Jim Meirose

Posted by Zannnie on 12:00 PM

Here's an interview which we've conducted with Literary Fiction Writer, Jim Meirose who is the Author of the novels ELI THE RAT, and MOUNT EVEREST:

Q - You wrote that you had been rejected tens of thousands of times. During the beginning phase before your success as a novelist, how did you cope with these rejections? What advice would you give to new writers now about managing these rejections?

A – It was a process of holding on and riding out the storm. I had to write. Why? Just because something inside, demanded it. Then, I had to have people read what I had written. Something inside demanded this, also. I was driven somehow to aggressively work to complete that circle. So, I guess I got into the mode of my drive to do this was much stronger than some puny rejections coming in could ever be. I made myself unstoppable. The writing was going to be done, regardless of the rejections coming in. I viewed it in a very cold-blooded way. I can’t say I ever have really been upset by getting a rejection. I somehow expected that was something that you needed to cope with, if you take on this job of writing. Kind of like, if you have a store, and a person comes in, looks around, then leaves without buying, that shouldn’t drive the storeowner into some kind of deep despair. They should just forget it and wait for the next customer. Some will buy, some won’t buy. Most, probably, don’t buy. Ask a storekeeper sometime. I have always viewed this part of writing as something you should expect to see happen. So, the storekeeper should keep the store open day after day, regardless.

For new writers, I would ask them to think about a few things. First of all, what you’re doing is just like fishing. The line will 90% of the time sit in the water, without a bite. Days may go by when nothing is caught, or even nibbles at the bait, at all. That’s rejection, you know, of a kind. There’s all kinds of rejections in every endeavor. But fishermen do not as a rule snap their poles in half, cry their eyes out, and never try fishing again just because nothing bit, or they caught nothing in a full day of fishing, and went home empty after the first time they tried. There’s fun in the act of fishing. Rejection is part of the fun, in some twisted kind of way. The final thing I would tell a new writer, is, keep the line in the water and keep the bait fresh. People reading this who have the stuff of a true writer, will understand exactly what I mean. People who get all paralyzed by their first rejection, should probably reconsider why they decided to write.

Q - How different is being a short fiction writer versus being a novelist?

A - Looking back, what I have learned is that there is really not much difference. I suppose for a long time I didn’t realize this, but experience has taught me that the root of the process is the same for both. It all hinges on what story you are trying to tell, in a way that will leave the reader satisfied. For both short and long works, you should not start in writing immediately. Do some thinking and dreaming and imagining, until you have pieced together, in whatever way feels comfortable for you, what the basic story is that you are trying to tell, and who the characters really are. Starting to write without at least SOME idea of these things, will cause you to generate tons of nonessential stuff that you’ll probably need to cut out in the end, anyway, because it will distract the reader from the “story”. This wastes a lot of time and energy. If you find you have to cut thousands of words from your first draft of a short story, you probably didn’t prepare yourself enough. As I said; get the characters especially fleshed out, in your mind. The writing you will do in the first draft will be most affected by the nature of the characters. The characters are living things that think, and speak, and interact. Next, when you are writing, let the characters who you know so well, lead you through the first draft until the story “satisfies”. Get in the “Zone”, or what John Gardner calls in his book “On becoming a Novelist”, drop into the “Fictive Dream”, and let it flow. Let it flow and follow the characters to the end. And here is where the final concrete answer to your question lies: the “End” may be in five pages or less, or as far out as fifty or a hundred or more. The key question you answer in the end then is, is this story satisfying to both you, and will it be to the reader. Then, when you have answered that, you will know if you’ve got a Short Story, Long Story, or a Novel on your hands. I never sit down to write either a short story or a novel, by intention. I used to but I got away from that. I sit down to work toward creating a really good piece of fiction. Sometimes the idea fits into a short story, and that’s that. Sometimes it takes a lot longer, and cries out to be a novel. The characters will lead you to know what it should be.

Q - Name 3 characters which you have crafted and developed over the years that you like the most. Why?

A – Walter and Lucas, two sort of backward farmer brothers, took hold for a while some years ago, and inspired a number of short stories, including the Novel Montag Press will be releasing in 2017, called “Marcia”. Walter is smart, clever, devious, and somewhat practical, but Lucas is not too smart, and sometimes speaks, behaves and talks in a very silly, awkward childlike way, which most of the time ends up annoying Walter, who more often than not ends up snapping and turning on Lucas and telling him to Shut up, or whatever. But they still love each other as brothers, every step of the way. I’m tempted to call them simple uneducated outsiders, but that does them injustice. They’re really deep and complex characters with a lot going on in their heads. But they ran out of gas in my head about ten years ago.

As for the third character, it’s really hard to choose one. So many have come to life through the years, and have been very good, but I can’t really pull one up on a pedestal above the others. I guess the answer for the third, is all the rest.

Q - What do you appreciate most in your publishers/publishing partners? Who do you have good working experience(s) with?

A – What I appreciate most is the ones that work hard, are professional and prompt, and on time with what they’ve promised, are communicative, and who are proud enough to put in the effort to make their product the best that it can be. These qualities are what makes their journals and magazines stand out and last for decades. I’ve had the misfortune of being snagged up with some really incompetent publishers/editors in the past. Make sure that whoever accepts your work, has all the good qualities I mentioned, and no bad ones. 

Second part: who I have good working experiences with, is very hard to answer, because I am grateful to ALMOST every editor/publisher who has been kind enough to take on my work, and 99.9 % of them have been gracious and very professional, but Amy Fusselman, Editor of Ohio Edit, Sandy Raschke, editor of Calliope, and Charlie Franco of Montag Press, are the first that come to mind when I think about the question. These are people who I can tell really “get” what I am trying to do, they are extraordinarily talented and professional, they are great editors, and they have never failed to be helpful to me with advice and encouragement of every kind. They are so enthusiastic and happy to be of help to me, that I almost feel guilty when a long time has gone by that I have called on them to help me with something, or submitted work to them, or whatever. I feel they are my friends.

Q - How did you cultivate so much energy to have published 300 of your short stories? What is your philosophy?

A - To tell you the truth, that is a good question! Somehow I guess I got like a stubborn mule pulling a plow, unwilling to stop until the whole field was done and the farmer was proud of the job. One day at a time I took it, it seems, and I never drifted off course. Keep your eye on the prize, you know. Like that. It’s really not that extraordinary to me, like I said earlier. It’s a matter of “opening up shop” day after day, running a business. When I am in the writing “Zone”, it’s not a business—it’s more like some kind of acid trip somehow, when you get deep in and are typing hard to keep up with the action—but back in “real life”, outside the “Zone”, submitting, promoting, and publishing has to be done by the numbers; completely planned, executed, and managed. It is all just business. Or maybe a much better, shorter answer is, I am probably the most stubborn person I have ever met and will push on no matter what.

Philosophy: that one is easy. It’s really three things: 1. Find what you really need to be doing, 2. Start doing it day after day after day, year after year, and let nothing stop you, and 3. Don’t feel shy about patting yourself on the back once in a while, feeling proud of yourself that you’ve got what it takes to see such a difficult job through to success. Of these three, the first is the seed, the most important, and everyone should strive to know the answer to that question. That’s the start, the seed, of anything. It took many years for me to find it, but thank God I woke up and saw it.. 

Come and find out all about rising Literary Fiction Writer, Jim Meirose

Author of the novels ELI THE RAT, and MOUNT EVEREST, both published by Montag Press. And THREE more coming by Meirose, from Montag, in 2017 and beyond!