Before HARDBARNED! became a book in 2016, it was a blog I began in 2008. It still is, from time to time, and you have found its home. Scroll through it all here, or browse selected posts at Medium. In case you were wondering…none of this blog content appears in the book, which is its own separate thing and mostly about working for a living. The blog is usually about pop culture-type stuff. Cheers.

Rejection, Sweet Rejection

This photo is from a day in December 2008, during my final month of hauling barns. It was consistently amazing for me to witness the sheer ubiquity of these gigantic, inflatable, holiday-themed lawn "decorations."

Down South on barn-hauling duty, I saw Frosty, Santa, Jesus, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, and sometimes combinations of several of those on one lawn. I cannot explain the two birds with Santa, though. Maybe they're some family-friendly version of Heckle and Jeckle, but they don't look cynical or rude enough to be the real deal.

I was constantly tempted by these and other bloated, air-filled lawn characters to bring my 60th anniversary edition Daisy lever-action BB rifle along in the truck for some high speed drive-by inflated holiday icon assassination revelry, but alas I never did.

So I swapped my desktop computer for a laptop and have enjoyed working on my book wherever I damn well please, instead of being chained to a desk in the dark corner of the bedroom. I actually have sunlight streaming in over my shoulder and a little Sun Ra in the background as I soldier on with my manuscript, which is definitely going to be titled HARDBARNED!, colon, something else. The something else is taking some time to work itself out, but I've got a few ideas. Here are some of my favorite potential subtitles so far:

1. One Man's 25-Year Odyssey Through An Endless Wasteland Of Stupid Jobs

2. Liberal Arts And Other Effective Ways To Waste Your Life

3. Work Sucks, And I Can Prove It

4. How To Deliver Barns And Become A Misanthrope In 3 Years Or Less

5. Anger Management In Mud, Blood and Feces

6. Mud, Blood, Detours and Dinars

I'll be calculating your votes. All three of you who actually vote will win a free Miller Lite in the can from me, or maybe an original Old Milwaukee, which recently appeared at my local grocery, if you come over and drink it with me. The beer budget in my living space has taken a nose dive with the whole unemployment thing.

Oh how I miss the good ol' days of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, and frothy mugs of Guinness and Murphy's, when they made regular appearances in my fridge. I'm really jealous of my two buddies from Tennessee who moved to Poland to teach English in some small town where they apparently don't sell lousy beer or even beers in containers smaller than 24 ounces. Nostrovia, brothers!

Last November I entered a writing contest for the first time, and I just found out today that it's over. Brace yourself for this: I didn't win. Not even an honorable mention, and there were a lot of honorable mentions. I feel really good about it though. It kind of reminds me of when I first met my future wife. I was in a bar, and I spotted her across the room. I knew that if I didn't at least try to talk to her, I would be kicking myself for it later.

I bought her a beer. Her response was "I don't drink beer." And still, I talked to her for a while, and when I asked her for her number, she said no. I still felt great after that because I knew I had tried my best. Not to sound like a real loser, but the same thing applies to the writing contest, and not just because I eventually married her.

All one ever reads about when researching the publishing industry and the trials of getting one's first book into print is the endless rejection. Read Stephen King's On Writing, Walter Mosley's This Year You Write Your Novel, Katherine Sands' Making The Perfect Pitch, or really any book about getting a book into print for the first time, and you'll see that every writer received boatloads of rejections, and not just the ones who succeeded!

I'm already used to being rejected by employers when I've applied for hundreds of writing jobs, so it's somehow comforting to know that I'm finally being turned down for my writing's sake, and not just because my resume or job application isn't interesting or impressive enough, you know?

I sent a short story to Playboy magazine, for shits and giggles, and I expect their rejection to arrive shortly. It seems counter-intuitive, but really...I just feel that much closer to actually calling myself a writer, now that the rejections have started rolling in, and that really is a good thing.