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Enviable Positions- and other myths

Here’s a link (right up front, so you know where this is going): The Review review, The New Yorker Rejects Itself

Read it? Good, here goes. Most of us underlings spend a small amount of time attempting to place ourselves somewhere on the ladder, other than where we are. If you’re a cop it might be you are tired of being a B-lister and yearn for the Dirty Harry position. If you’re an actor/actress you probably have a desire to weasel your way into a Pitt or Hudson rung on the step stool. Writers break themselves down by genre. There are those that want to be McMurtry or King, and others who just want to get a check from one of the five publishing houses (newsflash: they will all end up bankrupt and empty shells after indie publishing finishes what Amazon started). If you’re a teacher you want to be Ron Clark and have your own school where all the kids blossom into savants. Just about every profession has it. A mark of excellence and acceptance.

I went to Publix today. At the checkout my wife flipped through coupons while clutching a bottle of Pinot Noir, and I scanned the walls nearest the exit. There, next to the dry ice cooler, an ATM, and one of those spring water filler uppers, I saw the “Honor Roll”, the employees of the month, quarter, and year. Even grocery store clerks, some of whom are still in college or fresh out of high school, like to see their smiling faces on a plaque saying “Hey, you are alright. We like you.”

If a crafty scribe came up with this ploy, and discovered something I didn’t already know, I would be astounded. I already knew this though. A more recent, and somewhat shocking, development was when J.K. Rowling (never read a Harry Potter, I must admit) did it. She submitted with a pen name. What happened? Well, she got some critique from a publisher here and there. The usual stuff. We liked it but it just did not seem like a good fit at this time. Writers get that all the time. But this was different. It was a travesty, in some eyes. The gatekeepers had failed to let one of the chosen ones through the gate. At the next go somebody leaked who they were dealing with. Order and balance were restored, deep sigh of relief.

For all of us that struggle with these ideas of acceptance and reward I have hit upon a little known fact. They do not matter. That’s right. Not in the least. Because the ones standing guard at the doors don’t know any better. It’s a fact. Who was that a-hole that turned Elvis away? What was his name? I don’t know either. Decca Records rejected the Beatles, studio execs turned Clint and Burt Reynolds away, Fitzgerald had his manuscripts routinely rejected, and Woolf became so fed up with it she started her own publishing company. The people who serve as gatekeepers do so because they have no talent, and that lack of talent makes them perfect doorstops. That’s why they stand there and tell the rest of us no. I’m reminded of the Simon and Schuster exec who said what Stephen King wrote could hardly be considered literature. It was the same guy who gave Snooki a book deal (odd, considering she has a nominal level of skill where language is concerned).

When you do make it do me a favor. Practice right now. Extend that middle finger. Whoever it is keeping you from being on that wall (Pulitzer, Publix, or a police department), check to see if they’re on that wall as well. If not, they can kiss your ass.

 

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