Sunday, July 19, 2009

Literary Snobs

They said that of themselves (rather, the editor of a literary sex magazine I was in contact with). I'd sent in a couple of excerpts from Ed & Julie (I've since changed the title to Wicked Lovely -- it's the second story in 4:Play), in early 2009.

I'm not posting this to "vent" any frustration -- I just enjoy whacking high-and-mighty sorts.

Here's the correspondence, for your amusement + entertainment:

* Note: Text highlighted in this color provide the gist ;)

Alright. I don't think you quite understood my criticisms. We do not like the voice of Ed Drake. This next chapter is just the same. He speaks like a child -- and there are parts that are just nonsensical like: "...I’d pay the bozos inside if I had cash to spare so that I could loan the restroom for a half hour or so." Honestly, I've got to ask: have you ever edited this thing? If we didn't like chapter one, which at least introduces the characters and the plot, why on Earth would we want to publish chapter two, which only makes sense because I've read chapter one. Well, y'know what: we are literary snobs. XXXXXX is a literary, sex & arts magazine. It isn't a print version of literotica. It isn't a print version of literotica. I don't think one of us has read Twilight and I don't think any of us every will, but like Date Movie and Epic Movie and Superhero Movie, we can usually smell crap from across the room. Rule of thumb for something like Twilight; if it's a book that has it's biggest audience among people who never read anything, it's not good, it's grade nine book report pulp.

I wrote that the first bit of Drake you sent us didn't pick up steam and that it was repetative. Rather than take the time to consider these comments, you just sent the next chunk of your story, as much as you could wedge within our word-count guidelines, as soon as possible. And I said we didn't consider your haiku as the sort of haiku we'd publish, and then you just sent us another ten of the same thing. I've got to ask: have you actually read an issue of our magazine? You say you're trying to get as many excerpts published as possible before looking for an agent. To me, that means your just dumping old pieces which have never been edited on as many laps as possible.

I didn't want to be mean, but when you replied almost instantaneously to my letter of last night (note: I wasn't aware at all -- truly) it struck me that you aren't taking us seriously, not our publication or our time. Please do not submit again.


Mr. "I-am-a-Literary-Snob"

Here's my reply -- wasn't expecting to get a reply (my instincts were right):

Dear (Mr. X),

Most of the time, I know what I'd like a character to sound like, and I have my reasons for it. Not everyone will see eye-to-eye with me on it, and that's no biggie.

Regarding one of my poems, perhaps I should have omitted the word 'haiku' from the title itself, and reverted the title back to its original version (which, with the omission of the word 'haiku', would read "txt-msgs [from one guy 2 another]), so that a certain level of objectivity could be better maintained while reviewing the piece. In your previous mail, you said that I sent "another ten of the same thing". That might be true, but technically, that isn't necessarily true either, because that poem brings together 14 stanzas to form one stand-alone piece. Now whether each individual 5-7-5-syllabled stanza IS a haiku, or not, needn't be an issue, when the poem is taken in its entirety.

As to whether I edited Ed Drake, indeed, I did! As carefully and meticulously as I do with all my other material. A horny teenager isn't going to sound like Shakespeare, and if that's going to ruffle up a few feathers here and there, I am fine with that.

PS: I'm sure William Faulkner edited The Sound and the Fury. As did Bret Easton Ellis, James Joyce, E. E. Cummings, and Emily Dickinson et al., with their respective works.


P.S. Got an email from the magazine in June 2009, calling for new submissions.

P.P.S. More feedback on 4:Play on this post.


  1. Ha-ha! Being a literary snob, you'd think he'd take more care over his spelling and syntax.

  2. I KNOW. I might direct him to this book/this post, some time in the future...