WAR OF THE WORDS…
I’ve been considering whether or not to publish parts of my blog as a memoir. Just as Anne Morrow Lindbergh drew connections between the rhythms of beach life with her own, so I have been drawing parallels between my day to day observations and themes from literature.
Unlike Lindbergh, I can make no to claim to history or prominence, so it takes a certain amount of hubris to write a blog and presume anyone outside myself would be interested. A few friends have made favorable comments but their support comes as no surprise. That’s why they are my friends. What the larger world would think of my ruminations, I do not know.
To find out, I sent a few blogs to a small publisher of non-fiction. What attracted me to the company was the submission statement which said they were looking for “Non-fiction, personal journeys of social relevance.” I thought my work might do but I was wrong. The answer I received was prompt and tart.
Caroline, if you look at the submission guidelines, I think you’d agree that your work doesn’t sound like anything we publish.”
(woodcut, Ronin Under Attack, 1869)
It’s not the first time some agent or editor has implied I’m either too stupid or too lazy to understand what I’ve been told. Normally, I delete the barbs and move on. But venting at strangers really isn’t civil and to a less seasoned failure than myself might be destructive, so I offered a reply. “Relevance, apparently, is in the eye of the beholder.” A second e-mail flashed upon my screen within minutes. I deleted it, of course. This publisher and I have better uses for our time than playing a game of “who gets the last word.”
Still, I feel this woman’s response was unwarranted. People in her profession, above all others, should know words are a flawed vessel upon which to carry meaning. Mathematics was created to escape the years of ambiguity which history and usages have conferred like barnacles upon common language. Ironically, however, this very ambiguity which the scientific community eschews, poets and writers celebrate (Blog: 6/4/2010).
A literate person should know that the sender of a message is responsible for its meaning. Publishers who draft vacuous and poetical guidelines shouldn’t expect submissions of scientific precession.