Monday, June 23, 2008

editors breaking promises, worst case scenarios, part 1

Probably one of the most painful and horrible memories I have as a writer is finding out from an editor that he did not want to publish my work anymore despite the fact that he said he would, many times, very explicitly, in connection with an award that was pretty great.

I don’t want to go into the ugly details here, but there was one detail that was excruciating and, I think, revealing. We were talking face to face in a food court near a sort of balcony in a mall space, and this editor was not telling me why he changed his mind. In fact, he was not even admitting that he had changed his mind. He actually said these words as part of his “defense”— “I’m just a little guy.”

This was particularly excruciating because I had heard these exact same words before when I was in my early 20s from a poet in his early 40s. This older guy—formerly a close friend—made an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to steal my girlfriend at the time—she was younger than me. Aside from attacking me and lying about me to her countless times, that guy once defended his own actions to me by saying, “I’m just a little guy.”

Of course, I didn’t share this information with the big-deal editor, and I always tried very hard to work with him, but to no avail. I learned from this that some editors will break a deal, no matter how much it damages another person’s life and career etc., and basically try to weasel out of it by being “little.”

On the positive side, from that point forward, I knew that at least one thing editors ought to do is try their hardest to stand by their words to writers.

No comments: