Monday, January 11, 2016
Dear Publisher: the hundredth letter
This is my hundredth letter to you proposing that you publish my writing. Yes, I am aware that is a lot of letters. I am also aware that you might be thinking that it's about time I got the message that you and your publishing house are not interested in publishing my work. And fair enough. I accept that after 99 refusals you might genuinely not be interested in working with me. I accept that maybe you weren't just kidding or trying to soften me up for contract negotiations.
So, yes, fine, let us proceed from that point of view; you really and truly are not interested in publishing my essays.
But are they really all that bad? I mean, think back to everything you have ever read in your lifetime. A few hundred of those things, maybe even a thousand, were utterly brilliant. Another few thousand were hideous, maybe a fair share more than that, seeing as you're a publisher. That leaves something like five million novels, essays, poems, short stories, and product labels just floating around in the great stew between genius and garbage.
After almost three professional years of faultless and rigorous prose manufacturing I confess that I have had very close to no people tell me that my work is utterly brilliant, or that it is the work of a genius. No one has seriously taken up the banner of my manifestos. Popularity has skirted me. And, occasionally, now for instance, I am willing to accept this lack of writing on the wall, so to speak. Generally the best I get from the culture at large is a random comment like "I really enjoyed this one." I have tried to balance this extreme mildness of enthusiasm by frequently mentioning that I am a genius. My essays freely refer to my genius and to the greatness and importance of my work. But then, should I not be entitled to an opinion about my work just because I'm the writer?
Thank you, but I wasn't really looking for an answer there.
My point is, for the sake of argument, let's drop me into that middle category of prose writers, the five million as I referred to it above. As much as you might like to publish only brilliant authors, you almost never have. You publish out of that great pot of five million. What else can you do? Brilliance is simply too rare. And because we, as people, like to believe we have some control over things, you probably give yourself tons of reasons for picking one slush pile item over another. I understand. But deep down you know it's all pretty random. There's no abiding reason for picking one minor talent over another. And there's nothing wrong with that.
But I'm just saying that given that that's true, what's to stop you from choosing your next author by the color of their stationery, or the cut of their jib, or the city they're from? How about, for instance, you choose your next new author based on their personality?
I have a very winning personality.
I look forward to working with you.