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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I CAN do it

Category: Issue 7

I suppose this is a rant that most writers will understand. As we grow a thick skin for the insults we endure when we put our ‘babies’ out there. To be mauled, criticized and on occasions, half rewritten by someone who hadn’t had the idea, but wants to improve on yours, rewriting paragraphs and sentences.

Do editors also lose their sensitivity? I’ve recently had a rejection that was headed in the email, full caps and bold. REJECTION, here I may add, the name of my piece, was in small caps. Did he think I wouldn’t understand the words - We have decided not to publish your story?

Another wrote I didn’t read beyond the first paragraph. Fine – but did I need to know that? A simple ‘not for us’ would have sufficed and even if he hadn’t liked the first paragraph, having gone that far, why not say why?

I also wonder how many potentially good writers give up, through thoughtless criticisms. I get a lot of people asking me for reviews and I always try to oblige, occasionally the work is almost incomprehensible. But if you look hard enough there always seems to be a redeeming feature, a nice sentence, a good piece of dialogue. Sometimes the idea is brilliant, but the writer is obviously a beginner. To say I didn’t read beyond the first paragraph is the height of arrogance. Many of these Editors are writers themselves, they should know better.

Here is something to lift the spirits of any writer that has had their work rejected.
They have let some amazingly big fish slip through their nets, great classics and ultimate blockbusters of all varieties: War and Peace, The Good Earth … To Kill a Mockingbird, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam, Watership Down.
The list goes on and on.
Crash by J G Ballard
‘The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help.’
The Deer Park by Norman Mailer
‘This will set publishing back 25 years.’
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
‘Do you realize, young woman, that you’re the first American writer ever to poke fun at sex.’
The Diary of Anne Frank
‘The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the “curiosity” level.’
Lust for Life by Irving Stone
(which was rejected 16 times, but found a publisher and went on to sell about 25 million copies)
‘ A long, dull novel about an artist.’
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
‘The grand defect of the work, I think, as a work of art is the low-mindedness and vulgarity of the chief actors.  There is hardly a lady” or “gentleman” amongst them.’
Carrie by Stephen King
‘We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias.  They do not sell.’
Catch – 22 by Joseph Heller
‘I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.’
The Spy who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré
‘You’re welcome to le Carré – he hasn’t got any future.’
Animal Farm by George Orwell
‘It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA’
Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde
‘My dear sir,
I have read your manuscript.  Oh, my dear sir.’
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
‘... overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian … the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy.  It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream … I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.’

There – I feel better now,  let’s go to it!
 

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Old Comments

  • Very amusing, littlewhitewolf. surprised

    Quote: “... From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.” ...

    This one continues to set us back a couple of years. Where have all the great writers gone?

    Thanks. Fun read.

    Posted by Van der Riese  on  12/22  at  08:39 AM
  • aw shucks, twern’t nothing.

    Thanks for reading it, Van - I hope you’re not an editor.lol
    wolf

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/22  at  09:00 AM
  • i love this, because you are so definitely right.  my god, if we all got picked up everywhere, what chaos would ensue, haha?

    i’m saving all my rejection slips, which i’m going to make into a collage, just to keep my perspective fresh.

    Posted by mmpottlehill  on  02/14  at  12:23 AM
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