Once in a while I just have to vent. Things have been VERY busy. Writing, revising, queries, submissions, status inquiries, rejections, rewrites, stalled editorial processes. This is what it’s like to be a writer. Locked away in my study/office, hammering at the keys and, occasionally, wanting to take a hammer to the whole damned thing!
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been on both ends of this insanity. As a writer I have learned to live with the fact most editors (Even the ones who claim they’re open to everything.) operate from a very limited set of preferences. In the organizations where they employ outside readers, those are chosen because they share the bosses sensibilities and tastes – Or drinking habits. I, and others I’ve worked with, have been equally guilty of this fault. I, though, never claimed to have a balanced approach to everything I was exposed to.
As an editor I was bound by my experience on the other end of that proposition. If I was working within a stated “normal” response time, I would put my life on hold and move mountains to honor that commitment. If someone approached me with their wunderkind of creativity, the chid of their soul and desires, I told them up front, if accepted, it would be just the beginning of the process. This meant I expected them to return as good as I was providing. Everything was a Quid Pro Quo arrangement, governed by that old saw, “You’ll get out what you put in.” Honor that and I am yours to command – Within reason and only in private.
Lately I’ve been dealing with the exact opposite. Normal response times seem to no longer be calculated from when you submit a work or from a stated deadline but from whenever the person at the other end declares “normal” to be in operation. Example, six months stretching out over sixteen months and several inquiries with no definitive response. Another example? An editor working with me on-line for a publication that has accepted a piece who sends me suggested corrections and alterations via a Google.doc, which alterations I implement before all else, only to have the person at the other end of the process seemingly disappear. I, in turn, keep poking (As saccharine politely as possible) after the present disposition of the process. This leads to what I am beginning to interpret as a coded response. “I’m out-of-town this week-end but will get with you at the beginning of the week.” Which I have come to understand as, “Not now. Please!” Which, for its part, eventually morphs into a nebulous feeling of, “Maybe I should have asked – At the beginning of which particular week?”
Of course, all this Sturm und Drang might be attributable to my just being old-fashioned. I worked for years in the service industries while trying to promote my writing and art. In that world I learned that the burden of service was on the provider and a large part of that lay in communication. In a shrinking literary marketplace it would seem this basic tenet would be even more precious than ever. Then again, I’m a writer, poet, and painter. What do I know of reality?
Thus endeth the rant!