Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I don't think my emotional whiplash today was solely caused by my raging hormones. Maybe it aided it, but I doubt it was the only reason.

I'm taking a publishing course this quarter. It's a repeat course actually, I've already taken it. I'm just... retaking it. What happens is we comprise the editorial board for the campus literary journal, we work all the publishing aspects from soliciting submissions for content, to voting yay or nay on content, to editing it, and all the graphical details of the journal itself as well. I have done this, I know what worked last year and what didn't work.

(There is this girl in my course. She had a baby three months ago, she finds any excuse to bring that up. I already have a bad history of this girl because she has anger issues, and she felt it was okay to cuss out myself and some of my friends. About something stupid. She's very immature. So, we have a history. I will call her N.)

Well, we had a short story submitted. It was about a girl who gets pregnant on accident, and the baby ends up in the NICU, but everything turns out okay. Good subject matter, but it was poorly written. I mean, it was so poorly written that we could not possibly accept it and devote time to rewriting it.

In a situation like that, it is best to tell the person that the story is not acceptable for the current issue, and ask them to edit it, and resubmit next year. It would require too much work for this quarter, and it wouldn't be fair to offer to help this person edit it... not when it could be at the cost of cutting someone's story who may only need light editorial changes. It just isn't right. We aren't going to be able to help everyone who has something poorly written, so why should this piece be an exception? Besides, I honestly don't believe that this person has the ability to make it better. I'm not being biased or anything, but I've taken quite a few creative writing courses, and this person's way of writing... it was obvious that this was their first attempt at writing a short story, and it was probably the first draft. I'm really not being harsh, I'm just calling it as I see it. With more work, it could be a great piece. But I just don't think the author is at that level yet. And besides, the author a mother of two, going to school full time, going to be willing to spend hours and hours of free time in the next week to fix it? And if we go to her, offer to help fix it, and in the end it still isn't good enough... well, how would that make this person feel? Good subject matter, but poorly constructed. You can't accept a piece of writing based solely on it's subject matter. A good piece of writing must be... a good piece of writing. The subject matter is only a small part of that.

I explained all this to the class. I gave my opinion, several other student agreed with me.

N was livid. She thinks we should spend our time working on it. Her reasons? She said she liked the birth scene, and as someone who had just been through it herself, she thought it was really honest. She loved the subject matter. N said that the piece would speak to the students more, since many of them have children. She then started counting people in the classroom that had children... and asking each of them how they felt about the piece.

Yup. My opinion doesn't matter because I don't have children. It's nice to know that all my valid arguments can be so easily discounted by my barren womb.

I just shut up after awhile. She kept attacking me, in specific. And since I am all Clomid weepy anyway, I just popped my Skittles in my mouth and glowed with anger while others argued my points. She was obviously to absorbed to even attempt to listen to my reasons. So what difference would it have made?


Bluebird said...

Honey I am so sorry. I absolutely hate that for you. But I am so proud of you for turning to your skittles and letting her carry on - that's a much bigger person than I would have been!

So. . . I hate to even ask but! Which one of you won, anyways? ;)

Another Dreamer said...

There is no clear winner yet. We have to keep debating it on Monday... unfortunately. It's taking up valuable class time. It makes my stomach churn.

G & H said...

Hey new to your blog found it thru fellow IF blogs...Great post today and you are in the right! You cant publish something just because of the subject! N sounds horrible and I'm sorry she is giving you such a hard time!

WiseGuy said...

How horrible and pathetic of N to do this to you! Ugh!

There is nothing much that you can do right now. Just go with the flow and try to not get upset at her puerile behaviour. She will learn her lesson some day for sure, if not through you, through somebody else. I am sure of that.

You can't avoid her for sometime, so the best way is to make sure you control your own anger. Never make that crap-piece editing an ego issue.

Please take care!

Celia said...

She sounds like the self published authors that call me and want me to buy 30 copies on consignment of their "sure to be a bestseller" book on turtle farming or the biography of Elk Nose McGee.

G$ said...

She sounds like a gem. I hope your side wins, bad writing is bad writing.

Skittles + imagine G punching her in the throat come Monday.


Penny said...

Oh but yikes, I'm so sorry you had to field that one. I'm glad you spoke out.

Kristin said...

Oh man...that would have pissed me off to a whole new level. Sorry you had to deal with that crap.

PS...did you see that you won Dora's giveaway?

Cara said...

As a writer who has re-written my current manuscript more times than I have the ability to count - I just don't see where she thought her "winning" would do any good. The piece needs to stand, on it's own, because of the quality of the writing, not what it is ABOUT!

Oh - and yes - about winning Dora's giveaway. Congrats and THANK YOU for entering for that means you are supporting Share Southern Vermont.

Hang in - buy lots of skittles before your next class - and come ready with some kick a$$ retorts.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. N sounds like a real piece of work. I hope your side wins.