Hell Hath Many Forms

 OSMONDS

But I digress.  The hell I’m referring to follows:

Hell

It may boggle your mind to know that that letter was NOT a response to the question, In what way are you the most irritating person residing in New Jersey, the entire Eastern seaboard and/or United States, and please be specific. Rather, an alert friend found this abominable if brief torture primer disguised as an answer to a question posed in Real Simple magazine.[1] The Question:  What’s the Best Tip for Getting the Day off to a Good Start! 

And! You just know you’re in for one wacky answer!  From the kind of people!  Who will answer “questions” that end in exclamation points!!

“Afterward, everyone goes out the door with a skip in their step.”

A skip in their step. Yeah, right.  Woman, your husband and kids and are leaping and running like bats out of hell, tumbling over one another in their haste to flee the nightmare that can only come from inhabiting the same house as a vulgarly vivacious, psychotically cheerful person who assaults them with tickles and “ditties” [2] when all they really want at 7 am is a soft-spoken, “Good morning.” And maybe a caffeinated beverage.

And no ditties about ROBOTS, for f***’s sake.

MANSCARE

That kind of torture should be reported To Amnesty International.

******

Writers Guidelines [3] I love to loathe:

Unbounded Effluvia [4] is seeking submissions of fiction and poetry. We value diversity. If you’re a white, straight, able male—your stories are welcome. But if you’re not, we would love to see your stories as well. We’d love to see stories from diverse backgrounds, and strongly encourage submissions of stories featuring characters of all colors, belief systems, sexual orientation, etc. And of course, the same goes for the author. 

Well, wrap my Irish-Norwegian-Welsh-French-Cherokee-American, straight (but not narrow), middle-aged, female, able-bodies, Freethinking Humanist ass in a rainbow flag and set it on fire.

I deplore the celebritization of authors (even to the point of wishing away the requirement for the author’s photo on the book jacket or in the journal credits) for many reasons, including that the author’s name is as much of an identifier as I care to know.  I don’t need to know what authors looks like; I don’t need to know their gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political or supernatural beliefs.  I don’t want to judge their writing by any of those factors.  I want the writing to reveal itself.

I can understand a publisher’s or editor’s request for variety as to what comes from the keyboard.  What’s behind the keyboard should not matter, and thinking that it does is the bastard child of the write what you know bullshit, possibly the worst, self-censorial, small-minded advice ever given to writers, for a quajillion reasons, including that it gets translated, in many minds, as, write (only what) what you are. [5]

As a writer, my interest in and/or ability to create diverse characters and narratives should be immaterial to the moiself that is behind the keyboard.

Many years ago I had a story that, I thought, would be perfect for a certain (now defunct) literary journal that was devoted to portraying the zeitgeist of a certain generation [6].  According to their guidelines, the journal wanted the poems and prose submitted to them to not only to be about that generation, but to be to be authored by those whose birthdates would “qualify” them as belonging to that generation.  Moiself  was about 15 years past their qualification in that regard.  I usually boycott publications with such blinkered, partisan guidelines, but for some reason I felt like puttin’ my sneaky hat on. I just wanted to show them.

Unfortunately, this is not my sneaky hat.

Unfortunately, this is not my sneaky hat.

In the acceptance letter the editor write that my story was perfect for the upcoming issue and “masterfully captured” the atmosphere they were seeking.  Imagine that.  Imagine a writer of fiction using her imagination [7] to create characters that reflect anything other than thinly veiled versions of her (age/ethnicity/gender/generation/bra size….).

That journal did not use author photos (nor requested birth certificates or driver’s licenses or other forms of id proving the authors fit into their age criteria); thus, I assumed that they’d assumed I had obeyed their niggling guidelines, and that I was…one of them.  I never told the editors about my subterfuge.  I simply savored my admittedly petty [8] but nonetheless triumphant gotcha! moment, all by myself.

Until now.

*   *   *

Wishing you a weekend filled with petty yet satisfying delights. Here’s one more of mine.

 

May the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Apparently the magazine has a regular feature, “This Month’s Question,” and readers’ annoying braindumps thoughtful responses to the question are posted the following month.

[2] Ditties?  Really?

[3] a set of guidelines put together by a publisher, magazine or other organization that specify their requirements for material from writers.

[4] Not the journal’s real name.  Too bad, ’cause it’s a helluva name for a journal if I do say so myself.  And I just did.

[5] Either way, imagine if, for all these years, Stephen King actually has a paucity of imagination or skill and is simply writing “what he knows” or what he is.  Yikes.

[6] That would be the Ex-ers.

[7] Shouldn’t there be another footnote?  Somewhere?

[8] Why are acts of petty spite so enjoyable?  There must be  a German term for it, akin to schadenfreude.