Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Dear publisher: the confidence

Dear Publisher:

I send you this query in full confidence that you will be astounded and thrilled by the quality of my writing. You will adore all 3,000 of my witty, heartfelt, and interesting essays. You will cry and laugh and then whip out one of your golden contracts, the ones that you keep in a hidden drawer in your desk and only offer once or twice in a decade. Brimming with praise and enthusiasm you will send me this most rare and generous of contracts, and we will embark on a publishing journey full of Pulitzers, money, Pulitzers, more money, Publishers' Weekly starred reviews, bestseller lists, and, maybe, if everything goes right, a Nobel Prize or two. 

Oh, and also money.

At this moment in time I can pull up any one of my 3,000 essays, at random, and swell with pride at my brilliance. And I send this letter with the absolute conviction that you will feel about them as I do.

Unfortunately, in two months I will stumble upon this letter to you, and I will feel embarrassed. I will delve into the backlog of my work, read from it extensively, and find none of it anywhere to be as good as I remembered. My cheeks will burn. I will say to myself "What have I done?"

My god, what have I done?

And so that is why I am not sending this letter to you.

With a touch of rare pity in your heart (rare because you are a mostly merciless, slightly embittered big time publisher), you say to me "But why not just try? Nothing ventured nothing gained." Or you might say "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." But you'd probably stick with the 'nothing ventured nothing gained' thing.

But on the plus side you can't really say any of that if I don't write you. So there's that.

Also, if I'm really honest, at this point I can't really tell the difference between the success rate on things I venture and the success rate on the things I don't.

That's fine, I guess.

Thank you for your time, hypothetically,

Feldenstein Calypso

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