About Red Tales

Here's an evolving electronic collection of short prose pieces, with a poem contributed occasionally. Brevity guides. Although sometimes a piece will run to 900 words, most pieces are much shorter. Here one may find erotica, flash fiction, brief observations, and modest improvisations. Another rule is that each piece must have something to do with"red"; at least the word has to appear in each piece functionally. . . . All pieces are numbered and titled, so there's a de facto table of contents running down the rail below, under "Labels" (scroll down a bit). Browse for titles that look interesting, if you like. Thank you for stopping by. Look for some red today, tonight.

"Flaming June," by Frederick Lord Leighton

"Flaming June," by Frederick Lord Leighton

Saturday, February 21, 2009

58. The Rhetoric of Rejection

(dedicated to all writers toiling in the trenches around the globe and in innumerable genres and situations; peace be with you, brothers and sisters)

The Rhetoric of Rejection

Forgive this form-response its sins,
but due to the volume of queries we
quaff, our belched rebuffs must be
uniform. . . . Loved the writing, but
I'm afraid this isn't quite right for us;
indeed, it is quasi-wrong. . . . I can't
imagine anything interesting about
this topic. Indeed, I can't imagine.
. . . . Thank you for sending
us the complete manuscript
we requested; it looked quite promising
a decade ago when we received it, and
we do apologize for the delay, but
we're afraid it (the manuscript, not
the decade or the delay), is not quite
right for us . . . .Your first idea is too
old-fashioned, and your second is too
unusual, and at our agency, the center
is what holds. . . . We can't help you. . . .
Due to the volume, the market, the
predictions of Nostradamus, our
location in Manhattan, London,
Toronto, and Los Angeles, your
being unimportant, our being well
positioned, there being many famous
writers we can cash in on, and
your being just another godforsaken
writer, we do not regret to tell you
to jump in the fiery lake of an artist's
solitary, obscure hell. In fact, yours
is one of the manuscripts about which
we joked this week. We turned a line
of dialogue into a running gag. God,
it felt good to laugh at your work. . . .
The kingdom, the power, and the
glory of publishing are ours, not yours. . . .
You're a sucker. Any questions?. . . .

I'm afraid the writing itself got in the way
of this manuscript's being composed of blank
pages, which we rather prefer. In fact,
we're close to perfecting a publishing-system
in which writers are unnecessary. . . . I
didn't really have time to read your
manuscript, but in general, I can advise you
that characters should be round, conflict
is important, and works should have a
beginning, a middle, and an end. I hope
this advice helps you with what I haven't
read. . . . My response may reveal a certain
deficit of attention that masks itself as
illiteracy, but I assure you that I was meant
to be a literary agent. . . . Who the fuck
do you think you are, sending our agency
a query? Do you know who we are? Did
you look at our list of prestigious clients,
you moron? . . .Our agency provides
an expensive service whereby we read
your writing, send you a pre-fabricated
assessment, and take your money. Are
you interested? . . . . I loved your book, but
the agency just fired me, and no one else
there will advocate for it. Weird, huh? I'd
definitely call this a bad break. . . . This
came very close, but we can't have that sort
of thing happening, so we're pushing it
further away, all the way back to you,
in fact, so it's not close anymore. . . . .Truth
to tell, we hate writers. Can you blame us?
There are too many of you. You seem to be
either naive or arrogant. Not to be callous or
anything, but we'd like to thin the herd of
scribblers. . . . Truth to tell, we hate writing,
publishing, ourselves, our overhead, editors,
the market, our lives, commuting to Manhattan
from Brooklyn and beyond, and your book. . . .
We don't wish you the best of luck. . . . Writers
make their own luck. . . . Your rubber bands
are red. We prefer blue. Boo-hoo!


Fran said...

Oh, you poor bitter fool!

I loved this post so much - it is exactly what I want to say, but I'm frightened of offending said agents...

I assume it's ok to put a link to this on my own site tomorrow. We all need a damn good laugh.


Fran said...

Well, you didn't say, so I did it anyway - a bit more than a link...

I love your page!


Muser said...

Thanks, Fran. Glad you want to create a link. Actually, I'm not this bitter. I've been quite blessed. I was channeling a lot of frustration I and other writers have felt, but it was mostly to have some fun. I'm sure agents and editors could create their own list of grievances. Indeed, we all need a good laugh.

Heather Wardell said...

I LOVE the part about preferring a novel composed of blank pages. The whole thing is sublime. Wonderful!