I’m used to rejection. Most science fiction cons snub me. Most publishers reject everything I send them. So, getting an email telling me they don’t want to buy my new science fiction novel (which I think is really good) from some publisher is hardly news. What caught my eye was the last sentence. They said they weren’t interested in my novel. Then they said I have no commitment to writing. Excuse me? I’ve had three novels published. I’ve edited six anthologies. I’ve had over 100 short stories published. I’m an active member of the HWA. What the hell does it take then?
Little digs like that really make my blood boil. If they don’t want to publish something, so be it. But these extracurricular attacks seem to go beyond the scope of their duties. Fact is, a lot of these editor people are simply assholes. They’ve got a little power, or think they have, and get off putting other people down.
Way back when I was editing the old Trails Magazine, some guy sent me a story. I recognized his name immediately. He was also an editor and had told me to give up writing about a year earlier. Well, I sent him a form letter. I could’ve ripped his mediocre story, but I didn’t want to sink to his level. I wish I had taken his advice, frankly–though not for his reason that I can’t write. I simply think no sane man should ever try and become a writer. It’s just too frustrating. If I had it to do over again, I would never have put pen to paper and become a burglar instead. Breaking into buildings would be far less stressful than writing. I am certain of it. It certainly would pay better.
But this is not my first go round with bizarre digs. The late Marion Zimmer Bradley ripped me for some anthology she was editing (not her regular magazine). She said selling one’s soul to the devil to get published was a real clunker idea. The story I’d sent her had nothing to do with selling anyone’s soul to anyone. I guess she thought maybe I’d sold my soul to get published. No one’s offered to buy it, actually. I thought that was bizarre. Then I sent her another story. She trashed it because she doesn’t take stories with children in them. The story had no child characters and nothing to do with children. I always viewed her as a laughingstock from that day on.
But, going way back to one of my first submissions I ever made, I was ripped viciously by an editor who said I was going to have to do a lot better to make it. Well, I apparently still haven’t made it, but that particular story that she trashed has been reprinted six times. I thought this dreadful woman had attacked me with excessive zeal. And I actually prayed to God to strike her dead. About a month later, I learned she had died. God really came through for me on that one.
I guess that’s one reason why I always advise novice writers to avoid critique groups like the plague. Most of the people out there are morons. Tell the story you want to tell and don’t waste your time seeing what people think. And, if you’re really smart, don’t take up writing.