The walls of Andre Infante's bedroom are plastered with rejection letters, but he's no sadist. The form letters are badges of honor in a budding writing career—stepping stones in his journey to publish any one of his seven novels.
Rejection is the norm for novelists. You write your first masterpiece, send it to editors, find they don't agree and start the process over again. Veteran writers will tell the same tale. Andre's experience isn't any different, except he's already amassed a sizable collection of notices to rival most vets, all before reaching the age of 15.
Andre started his first novel around the age of 6. He couldn't write yet, so he used a series of scribbles and designs on paper to help him remember the story. Since then, he's completed six more, totaling one novel for every two years of his life.
"I haven't done a whole lot of writing recently," Andre says, holding a mug of tea his mother poured for him at the Blue Dragon Coffeehouse, "mostly I've been doing poetry." With a casual ease, Andre describes a scene from his novel: a boy and his intelligent dog fashion a makeshift breathing apparatus out of a pickle jar and duct tape to dive deep into a lake in search of treasures. He sent the novel to more than 20 publishers and received rejection notices from them all.
"I actually got a couple that weren't form letters," he said with a hint of a smile. For novelists, a personalized rejection is almost as good as an acceptance.
Andre is taking a break from short story and novel writing to focus on poetry and his newly appointed position as poetry editor for MAP21—a local teen ’zine promoting the creative mind of Albuquerque's youth.
MAP21 is the brainchild of local music fanatic and community developer Nora White. After taking part in the city's forum to discuss the banning of all-ages concerts in bar-style venues in 2005, White continued to work with youth and parents in the Duke City through Musicians And Parents (MAP), a city-run group to help generate ideas for the all-ages community. Once the city group disbanded, White kept the acronym but changed the meaning to Media Arts Promotion and added the 21. Today, MAP21 meets monthly at the Blue Dragon to discuss life, art, politics and activism. On the third Sunday of every month, they publish a creative literary and art magazine—written, created and published by Burque's youth.
Andre has had better luck publishing his poetry than his novels. MAP21 didn't send a rejection letter when he submitted his first poem for publication, "The Lady Autumn." Instead, he received another badge of honor to add to his impressive young career: editor.
To read Andre's poetry, pick up a copy of MAP21 at the Blue Dragon Coffeehouse every third Sunday at 2 p.m. Pizza, poetry readings and enchanting discussion are sure to ensue. For more information about MAP21, visit groups.myspace.com/map21.