"I blew on the joss sticks, and the ends fired orange. The rich, sharp smoke blanketed the base of the altar. I felt clumsy as I leaned forward, over the wooden steps that led up to the Buddhas, and stuck the sticks of incense into the sand of a clay pot, all three at once. They stayed for a moment, wobbled, and then fell over. When I tried to extricate them from the mess of smoke--so many sticks of incense burning with prayers--I singed my knuckles. Trying again, I pushed one stick in at a time. This time, they stayed."
That's Danielle Trussoni describing her fumbling, beautiful epiphany in a Vietnamese shrine--part of her memoir, Falling Through the Earth. She's our special guest this week, exploring her long journey to publishing this first, award-winning book. Today, she teaches us how to cope with our little failures.
Welcome to my deceptively simple feature, Five Easy Questions. In the spirit of Jack Nicholson’s mad piano player, I run a weekly set of quality interviews with writing pioneers—delivering some practical, unexpected advice about web publishing.
You wrote an unpublished novel before writing your memoir. What's the story behind that struggle? How did you deal with the frustration/anxiety/let-downs of being a fledgling writer?
I wrote a novel about Vietnam. Continue reading...
But it was a novel about a girl whose father has died in Vietnam and is MIA (which, if one thinks about it, is very telling about my relationship with my dad).
I wrote most of this book while I was at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Then, I went through the typical difficulties finding an agent (I think 15 or 20 agents rejected the book) and then, once I did find an agent, I couldn’t find a publisher.
So, the book was never published. And this is probably a very good thing, because looking back, I was faking a lot of that book. The memoir is much richer because I simply told the story straight, without protecting myself.