Today I'd like to talk about a previously undiscussed section of slush: let's call it the "You Can Use Your Imagination" pile.
This pile can be loosely divided into three categories:
1. Isn't my child imaginative?
2. Wouldn't you like to use your imagination?
3. Wouldn't you like to use your imagination while you're asleep (hint, hint)?
All three of these are maddening enough to get your submission back partially chewed by the editor who read it. But let's start with #3, so I can work my way up to foaming at the mouth.
Wouldn't You Like to Use Your Imagination While You're Asleep (hint, hint)?
Now, pretty much every adult understands the desperation that drives people to try nearly anything to get a child to go to sleep. I understand.
That said, nobody is going to pay good money for your plotless, pointless flight of fancy. Dream sequences don't sell. You have my full invitation to go ahead and tell long, convoluted, nonsensical stories (in which nothing happens) to your children to bore them to sleep. But when you start thinking that people are going to pay you for your long, convoluted, nonsensical stories, you have my full invitation to pull your head out of your butt.
Isn't My Child Imaginative?
Isn't it obnoxious the way other parents think their children are so special when it's obvious that your child is the one who is a glowing paragon of childhood precocity and delight?
Yeah. In other news for the reality-challenged: you can only see unicorns if you believe in them; yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus; and if you clap three times and wish on a star, people will pay you for your child's long, convoluted, nonsensical stories.
Wouldn't You Like to Use Your Imagination?
This is the one that irritates me the most. Why, you ask? I suppose the answer is that quite a large amount of the slush is from people who are writing at children rather than to them, and this is perhaps the most perfect example of that.
Writing a story meant to inform children that they can use their imaginations is like writing a story to inform children they can use their hands. (Wait, these things on the ends of my arms are for something? Wow!) ...Are you kidding me?
Children use their imaginations all the time, and need no provocation whatsoever. Which brings me to a perennial point that cannot be made frequently enough: If you don't remember what it's like to be a child, you don't get to write for them.
You, dumbasses: Have you only just realized that you have an imagination? And now you feel all artsy and free and want to inflict it on defenseless children?
(a) You're really rediscovering your imagination, and
(b) That magical ringing in your ears is the rust falling off.
Look, this is not to deride the lovely mid-life crises of certain people which lead them to visit craft fairs and buy ugly jewelry or take classes in "women's intuition". Just, please, stop cooping yourself up at home where there's the unhealthy temptation to "write" something.