Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It Can't Really Be That Bad, Can It?

My Slush and Punishment posts are not real submissions, no. It would be both unethical and unprofessional for me to post the submissions sent to my publisher on this personal blog.

However: they are very closely and faithfully patterned on real submissions I have seen. This is the thing I want to bring across: I am not exaggerating for humor --or for any other purpose.

The truth that I want to offer my readers is: a fair portion of the slush is this nuts. This wrong-headed. This mind-bogglingly bad.


Sometimes at my desk I worry that I'm being too jaundiced; too skeptical of random authors who find my name somewhere and get past our receptionist; too impatient with the bizarre but well-meant drivel that finds its way to my desk in spite of our very fine interns.

But the point is not whether I am a hopeless curmudgeon or not. The point for you, sweet readers, is that every editor has waded through the same jaw-dropping crap, and is as wary of strange writers as I am, for good reason: as wonderful as many writers are, some writers can be damn strange.

28 comments:

Jordyn said...

I love you Slush & Punishment posts. They make me laugh. They make me think, "okay well I'm not THAT bad. In fact, I'm much much much better than that.... okay phew."

Miriam S.Forster said...

After some of the things I've heard at writer's conferences and other places, I'm more that willing to believe that it gets that bad. I'm glad I'm a writer and not an editor. I think I'd shoot someone...

Incidentally, I read my husband the slush examples, and I think the Ta-ta one traumatized him for life. (Ew, ick, ick ick!)

christine tripp said...

Well if these latest postings are representitive of the kinds of stories that cross an Editors desk, I can see why so many houses are going the no submission without representation route. Let the Agents wade through the weirdo's to find the gems:)

As for "Ta Ta to Ta Ta's", I still can't believe it's even BASED on something someone actually submitted, how bizzare!

Susan said...

I always guessed that the freako submissions editors received made perhaps 2% of the submissions---just a very very memorable 2%.

Then I edited a collection for a local non-profit, and was amazed. In my case, about 5% of submissions were wonderful, 10% were maybes, 70% forgettably bad or completely off-target, and the rest were outright scary enough to make me want to phone emergency services.

I always enjoy your slush posts--and often learn something from them. Thanks for all of them!

Meg Wiviott said...

I am relieved to read that your samples are "fiction" but disturbed to read that they are not exaggerated. It makes me wonder how any new author is picked up. If I were you I wouldn't want to read any author I wasn't familiar with.

Thanks for your patience and perseverance.

Anonymous said...

I wish you had a Facebook profile as EA. Have you thought of making one?

I believe much of the slush is as bad as you say. As a developmental editor I see some doozies too, but hopefully I help strain some of the sludge from the slush.

Anonymous said...

If this is a good representation of slush, then why can't I get published. :(

I'm not looking for sympathy, I just had to type that out loud...

S.T. Fang said...

Used to think you were exaggerating, but now that I work for an STM publisher (science papers only, thank you), I've seen a number of novel and picture book submissions from people who don't bother to research where they're submitting to. Sadly, some of them are even worse than the ones you've made up.

Anonymous said...

My bobblehead is nodding in agreement.

Colorado Writer said...

Ah, but can we be both wonderful and strange?

AC said...

I love Slush and Punishment. They're hilarious and ego-boosting at the same time--such a great combo ;)

Anonymous said...

So, now I'm wondering what Ta Ta, Ta-Ta's, was actually titled or about. Bye, Bye Boobies? A Farewell to Breasts?

Sarah Laurenson said...

If you published a book fo Slush and Punishment, I'd buy it.

Anonymous said...

I have been having a baaaad week, but reading your slush & punishment samples had me laughing out loud. Thanks for the much needed giggles.

Ebony McKenna. said...

I love the slush and punishment posts - keep them coming because they're great for a laugh.

And yes, they do make me feel better about myself, because I shake my head and say 'well, at least I'm better than THAT'. And I also believe it helps you open a window to let the crazy out.

Anonymous said...

I love these posts too... They give me hope :)

Anonymous said...

I'm here! I'm queer!! I'm drinking a beer!!!

Becky Mushko said...

What the others said.

It's comforting to know that my writing isn't that bad! (And, thanks to the Bulwer-Lytton contest, I'm a nationally ranked bad writer.)

I hope you'll post more slush-inspired stuff. If it doesn't kill us, it'll make us stronger.

Jimmer said...

Okay, we've heard about the terrible slushiness of children's book editing; now, let's hear something about writer strangeness--'damn' and otherwise...

BuffySquirrel said...

Hmm, yeah, slush can be that strange. And stranger.

One of my colleagues once got challenged to a fist-fight by a rejected author. Fortunately, they lived thousands of miles apart.

Susan A. Meyers said...

Lol, when I'm feeling low, I read your slush and punishment posts and think, "Okay, my ideas aren't the worst!"

God Bless,
Susan

Ben-M said...

After browsing some of the POD sites I'm under no misapprehension as to the quality of many unpublished writers' work.

So I must thank you for picking some of the more amusing examples for S&P fodder and for keeping some real garbage off the bookstore shelves.

Anonymous said...

Wow! "I'm here! I'm queer!! I'm drinking a beer!!!" survived comment moderation. EA, I'm impressed by your commitment to free expression.

Editorial Anonymous said...

If I can't detect a sales angle, my commenters can be drinking anything they like.

Anonymous said...

Weird authors? Okay, when I was a periodical editor, I came home one day to find an author in my living room, having successfully convinced my wife that he and I were best friends. I'd never met the man before in my life. He proceeded to try to sell me an incoherent book review, as I *carefully* got him out the door and out into the street!

Anonymous said...

I find Slush and Punishment entries terribly amusing...yet somehow sad on a certain level as well. Everyone says how this tripe composes 99% of all slush. So, if you're NOT writing this stuff, but rather, "real" books, and you still don't get any takers, does that mean you automatically stink just as much as people writing about ta-tas? I know one has blind spots with one's own writing, but I have writer friends whose mss are to me, completely compatible with (in some instances better than) most of what's on bookstore shelves today. And yet, they continue to get rejections.

So--for the entertainment of all (myself included)--please continue your Slush and Punishment entries, because we all need something to laugh about. But maybe if you're bored, you could talk about that last 1% sometime, and what allows one completely sane and informed ms to make it while another one gets written off with a form. (Like the other poster, I'm not trying to do a pity party or express sour grapes--I'm just...muddy on that 1%.)

ChristaCarol said...

Haha! That's great. Both the above and the Slush & Punishment. I'm strange, but I'm hoping my writing isn't. *I* don't think it is, anyway. Maybe I'm not the best judge ;)

Great blog. :)

BuffySquirrel said...

Speaking from my own experience, I think editors are often muddy on that 1% until they find it.