Friday, April 29, 2011

The Rejection Saga: Epiphany, Commas, and Anticipation

Dear Dr. Emmons,

> p.s. We correspond so frequently, perhaps you could address me more informally.  (E.g., use a comma.)

Ahha! It's all been about the commas, hasn't it. All that has kept you from issuing, me, a, proper rejection, lo, these many, many months, has been my miserly use of commas. This moment is nothing short of epiphanic!  At last I understand!

> Perhaps you would like to join our Editorial Board?

My goodness, yes! Nothing could please me more than the chance to help issue rejections for your esteemed journal. (I suppose I'll have to say "our" esteemed journal, now.)  Yes, yes, and more yes!  I am ready and eager to serve.

So eager in fact that I beg you to tell me the moment I am installed on the board and am authorized to issue rejections. My fingers are twitching in anticipation.

YOS, TIA, etc.

The Rejection Saga: Dr Emmons Offers Me Another Go And Something Else

Dear Sonia,

According to my dictionary, "intense" is an adjective.  I thought I asked for none of those.  Also your story is too short, and not enough happens.  I want more details.  Put me into Mollie's life.  I want to hear the wet slap of fish as Mollie plops it on her display counter.  I want to feel the sparge of the fish's last exhalation, as its eyes go glassy.  I want to smell--no, to taste!--the delicate parfum of sea salt and kelp gracing Mollie's sun roughened neck.  But pretend I am a blind man; I don't want to see anything.

Best regards,

p.s. We correspond so frequently, perhaps you could address me more informally.  (E.g., use a comma.)

p.p.s.  We have received many short stories of late.  (I also consider blank documents and research articles short stories.)  Perhaps you would like to join our Editorial Board?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Magic: A Bird in the Hand

Ah, spring!  When I was a child, Easter morning meant a basket of fake grass, eggs, and delicious candy, along with adorable little pipe-cleaner men playing on the sides of the basket, courtesy of an impressively creative mother. It was magic.

I had some magic yesterday, too, holding this dove chick in my hands, feeling its seven-day-old just-fed I'm-a-dove contentment. Nothing says spring like new, happy life.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Rejection Saga: My Serve

Dear Dr. Emmons:

It is likewise always a pleasure to nearly hit my target.  I dare say I'm getting quite good at it.

Please find (below; really, it's not that hard to find) my rewrite as per your thoughtful and insightful rewrite suggestions.  As is so often the case, I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your feedback.

YOS, etc.

The Story: Once upon a time there was a fishmonger named Mollie. Some stuff with fish happened. It was intense. It's over now. The end.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Rejection Saga: Another Volley

Dear Sonia,

Thank you for submitting another story.  It is always a delight to hear from you, and see the multisplendent amalgams of words you arrange.  This submission was no different.  But we did find a problem with it.  It is too descriptive.  Our readership doesn't have time for all the details, and other aids to imagination that you have included.  Please do a rewrite that lacks any adjectives and adverbs, and avoids long words.  And we'd like to see a fishmonger named Mollie in the story.

Best regards,

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Art of Flirting

I'm facilitating two workshops at NorWesCon, Flirting 101 (Fri 4/22, 7pm) and Advanced Flirting (Sat 4/23 10pm).  If you're going to the con, do join us.

For the first time ever, I'll be giving out a Certificate of Flirting Competence to those who attend both workshops and perform competently at the assigned tasks. (Yes, there will assigned tasks: workshop exercises and homework between the sessions. You'll earn your cert.)

If you've never been to one of my flirting workshops, give it a try. My conceptual frame is that flirting is for more than romance, it's an approach to connecting with people around any area of shared interest.  It's a way to approach social interaction that is playful, respectful, and lowers the risks to both parties.

We'll discuss flirting theory, practice approaches, examine rebuffs, and explore the frightening world of rejection and acceptance.

I really enjoy these workshops. They can be full of lively banter, playful and (yes) flirtatious exchanges, outrageous humor, and risk-taking made fun.

Join us if you can.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rejection Saga: Left Wanting, I Take Action

Dear Dr. Emmons:

I have been so disconsolate since your last letter I have barely known how to reply. We differ, you and I, on the subtlest of tenuous post-modern deconstructionist arguments. Thus I am forced to ask: have I earned this rejection?  No, I must answer; I have not!

So hard and long have I worked for this rejection only to find now it tastes no more of success than failure. It is to me as a glass of water that has sat beside a wine bottle for five minutes is to an alcoholic. How can I show my face to my fellow writers who receive handfuls of rejections a month, all pure and unsullied by questions of reality and "quotes"?  (I have just now spoken that word, so this is correct usage.)

Simply put: I cannot!

While you may understand your rejection to be true and right, good sir, I am left wanting.

And so, please find attached another story submission which I send in the hopes that this time, perhaps, I will have truly earned the rejection I crave. I trust you will give it all the consideration I have by now surely earned.

YOS, etc.,

Sonia Lyris

P.S. Here is my story. It is called "A Story." I have quoted it because that's what I call it.

Once upon a time there was someone who innocently acted with the best of intentions, or perhaps out of ignorance, we can't be sure, and things went wrong. He or she tried to fix this but it only got worse. With a mighty struggle, help from an unexpected source, and attendant personal growth, he or she finally managed to fix the problem in a delightful way that leaves us feeling good.  The end.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rejection Saga: A Deconstructionist Disagreement

In this chapter of the The Rejection Saga, Dr. Emmons disagrees with me about the nature of punctuation:

 I have faced these fancy deconstructionist (or whatever) arguments from others.  If it is in quotes it is dialog.  Except in the case of those crazy fishmongers that put "FRESH" on their signs (with the quotation marks!--we don't buy fish there), or similar circumstances of which your talking monkey is not one.

I did not bother to ask my wife about this, but I'm sure she agrees.

Best regards,

Stay tuned for my fervent reply.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Jam Tomorrow

There's this great quote from Terry Pratchett's Hogfather:

Jam, Today

"It's the hope that's important. Big part of belief, hope. Give people jam today and they'll just sit and eat it. Jam tomorrow, now -- that'll keep them going forever."

Like so much Pratchett, this makes me smile, because it's funny and it's funny because it tastes true. The idea of jam (or whatever you crave) in the future has a particular draw that having the jam in hand (or mouth) doesn't. It would seem like having it today would be clearly better, since tomorrow never really arrives, but no.

Somewhere in understanding this twisted truth that going-to-have-it-later is more shiny than having-it-now, is, I suspect, the key to something Very Important.

So what is there about jam tomorrow that makes it a more powerful incentive than jam today?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rejection Saga: I Must Decline

Yesterday I posted Dr. Emmons' most recent letter to me in The Rejection Saga. Here is my reply:

Dear Dr. Emmons:

I have a confession to make. I trust that, given the length and intimacy of our friendship, you'll carefully consider my words before passing judgment.

I knew you would bring up the monkey. Given your extensive education, uncommon insight, and position as the editor of the most prestigious arts and science journal in the world, it was inevitable.

Assuming, that is, that you had read the story. We writers are a delicate and insecure lot, never certain that our darling creations will get the attention they deserve. I am deeply gratified to discover that you have, indeed, read all the way through. Yes, the quotes were a deliberate ploy. I trust you understand.

Now, as to the rejection. Yes, of course you need give no reason, but, alas, you have. As I have sought this rejection most ardently, I am loathe to explain your error, but integrity demands I do so.

The monkey is not in our world, but in a virtual reality, and thus not speaking at all. Indeed, the illusion of monkey-speak in this story is a postmodernist reflection on the collective cultural delineation of "speech" in contrast to the abstract notion of "silence" highlighted by appearing within artificial quotes in a story with no true dialog. It is a literary device representing man's struggle to be heard.

From a scientific viewpoint, the monkey's actions move no air molecules and thus fail to change the physical world in any fashion whatsoever. The monkey is, for all intents and purposes, both literarily and literally, mute.

I trust you see the profound symbolism here.

I must therefore with great disappointment reject your rejection as standing on no solid ground. While I long for the rejection I have worked so hard to obtain, I cannot, alas, accept it under false pretenses.

YOS, etc.,

Sonia Lyris

P.S. Thank you, but Mr. Landis is a better writer than I am, so that's hardly a fair comparison.

P.P.S. Should these subtleties be unclear in any way, you may wish to consult your wife, as she has shown uncommon good judgment on these matters in the past.

Will Dr. Emmons disagree? Issue another coveted rejection? Or...? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of the The Rejection Saga.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rejection Saga: Dr. Emmons Finally Delivers

Dr. Emmons' most recent letter to me would appear to bring The Rejection Saga to a close, but stay tuned for my reply before you consider the matter concluded.

Dear Sonia,

Please excuse my yet again tardy reply. You will surely understand that we are busy here, and these decisions take time.

We have decided to reject your submission. Although we don't need a reason, here is one. Although you claimed your story had no dialog, clearly on page 37 of your ms appears:
"Carry on," the monkey said to Alan, with a smile and a rose.

Frankly you can only give us the run-around on this issue so many times. We have demanded more landscape descriptions, and no dialog, and yet you continue to have your characters jibber-jabber throughout the entire story (or at the very least on the last page.) I hope you in general submit to editors with more patience than I.

Thanks for playing.

Best regards,

p.s. You needn't have worried about our fear of rejecting fiction writers. For example, we rejected Geoffrey Landis on the first go.

I'll let him know what I think of this shortly.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Internet Holiday!

You've heard that the Internet is a of sub culture and if you're one of my many geek friends you're like UHM YEAH but for everyone else who is kind of foggy on the whole culture part of the Internet, may I introduce you to...

April First?

This is the day when we Internet geeks (and other creatives) make up stuff that sounds plausible and see how many non-geeks (definitions of geek are conveniently flexible today) fall for them.

It's kind of an Internet Christmas. A day of prezzies of humor for minds. A day to enjoy the fruits of those who have clearly spent way too much time creating amusing stories for our entertainment.

For example...

Google is usually good for a chuckle, and today is no exception. It's not just a good idea, it's the future, but here the big G plays it out for humor with dry delight.

I like EFF's offering which includes earning a degree in facebook privacy settings (*snicker*) and addressing internet porn, but I'm disappointed that they felt the need to tell me it was all for April Fool's. Come on, guys -- even Google doesn't do that.

If you've got favs today, toss 'em at me.