Previous to last weekend, I’d done well in an online contest
wherein authors were encouraged to post a query letter and the first 250 words
of an unpublished novel. I entered hoping to get something out of it, but never
dreaming I’d come out of it with requests from two traditional publication
editors to receive my work.
Here’s where the stupid thing came in:
I sent them the wrong version of my story.
How is that possible?
Well, I’ve only got fifteen versions of my story –
revisions, actually – on my computer. And in my excitement at doing well in the
contest, I dug into a folder I’d used for a previous submission and sent the
requested files off electronically.
Then the day after, as I was re-reading old blog posts, I
realized I’d sent the wrong version when I stumbled across a new introductory
chapter. That I had *not* sent.
So that night I leapt into action like a cheetah on a
I re-sent the files, explaining my mistake. And hoped for
And I’m still hoping. It can take editors up to three months
to swim through queries, even those they requested. So I’ll have to stew in my
own juices for the next few weeks or months to see if my attempt at rectifying
the mistake paid off, and if my work meets muster.
Still, I feel rather stupid. And it’s humbling. Kinda know
how the coyote feels after he gets blowed up:
After the anxiety wore off, I began a-thinking: What can I
learn from this, aside from fixing my filing system?
First of all, slow down.
I heard about the contest at the last minute. I panicked to
get an entry in – and used an older version of my story as the entry.
When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy
strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even
accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we
One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that
we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or
Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can
think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even
think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They
flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even
during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their
lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little
sense of meaning in their lives.
Entering the contest was a complication. I rushed it. I’m
still glad I did it – I would not have two requests for manuscripts otherwise –
but slowing down even by a matter of minutes would have likely made my resubmit
I thought I was right – but I was not. And I should have
known it, since I’d made great pains earlier this year in re-writing that
manuscript, including a more riveting opening chapter.
When I was in graduate school, I took a seminar on Heinrich
von Kleist from Bernhard Blume, one of the grand ole men of German scholarship.
One day we were to discuss a paper by a classmate, ken Tigar, on Keleist’s
play, Der zerbrochene Krug. The paper seemed sound enough to the rest of us.
Tigar’s argument was based on a description written by Professor Walter Muschg,
the great Kleist scholar at the University of Basel, of a plate with figures
engraved on it. Professor Blume came to class with a large volume under his
arm. He opened it to a picture of the plate that Muschg had described and
passed it around.
"Well,” he asked, “what do you see?"
No one saw anything.
"Does the woman look pregnant to you ?” he asked.
Ken’s face blanched.
Professor Blume continued, “No, but Muschg says she is
pregnant, and Mr. Tigar’s paper rests on that premise.”
Ken stammered, “I just through Muschg would be right."
Professor Blume shut the took and said, “Let that be a
lesson to you. Never trust anyone. You must examine the source yourself."
I should from now on follow Blume’s advice. I should have
known when I submitted my entry that I was using an older manuscript – one that
had been rejected by a publisher and one I had spent at least four months
Next time, I will question what I’m doing. I’ll slow down
for those precious minutes.
Maybe nothing will come of my error. I hope something comes
of my attempt to fix it.
It’s supposed to be a news story. But it appears to be
devoid of actual news.
Let me tell you’ I’ve been there. Spent ten years as a
journalist covering small-town news. Spent a lot – and I mean a LOT – of time
listening to city council deliberations, which should be filed under cruel and
unusual punishment. And I’m sure if I went through the tons of articles I
shoveled out, I could probably find a few nearly as information-free as this
one. So I’m the pot calling the kettle black.
So. The council wants to change the enforcement part of its
nuisance ordinance. What those changes might be, well, that’s left to the
I get that there’s no draft. I get that there’s not even a
deadline set to have a draft of what might be changed.
But news articles are meant to inform, not be vignettes of
moments in time at a city council meeting. I want that, I’ll do this:
And I understand the journalist’s pain.
City Council don’t wanna say anything because the journalist
is going to write it down and print it, and we all know what happens then:
"In my experience Miss Crisplock tends to write down
exactly what one says," Vetinari observed. "It's a terrible thing
when journalists do that. It spoils the fun. One feels instinctively that it's
Same for the city employee. One word gets out to the public
and KABOOM. What’s said becomes the OFFICIAL PUBLIC WORD ® and NOBODY – REPEAT
NOBODY – will believe anything otherwise, even if angels descend from the clouds
with a new version of the nuisance ordinance. So since there’s nothing of substance
to write about, clearly this should be a news brief.
But . . .
The journalist writes an information-free article with a
chiche in the headline. And dammit if he’s not going to get a byline. He sat in
that city council meeting for HOURS.
And an editor saw it, and it was good.
And the world goes on spinning because there’s another
newspaper to FILL FILL FILL.
Again, can’t say I miss the newspaper business at all.
NOTE: I’m not saying every journalist out there does this.
Frequently. But every journalist out there has done an article or two like
this. And if they tell you otherwise . . .
While I’m happy to hear that improvements are coming quickly
to the intersection of Hitt Road and 17th Street, I have some
concerns with the project’s apparent lack of support by the City of Ammon.
How can I say the city isn’t supporting the project when the
city has committed $1 million to it? Well, this little snippet from the PostRegister tells me something:
(Apologies if you can’t read the link; sometimes they’re
free, sometimes they’re not.)
The northern, western and southern legs of the intersection
will be expanded to include two through lanes, two dedicated left turn lanes
and one dedicated right turn lane each. There will be fewer improvements to the
eastern leg of the intersection in Ammon.
Now, maybe the lack of improvements on the Ammon leg have to
do with property acquisition. Or maybe the lack of improvements on the Ammon
leg have to do with the City of Ammon not putting enough money into the
I don’t have enough information to answer either question.
Perhaps those in the know can shed a bit of light on the situation.
I just know as a regular user of both this intersection and
the intersection at Hitt and Sunnyside, it’s the intersection at Hitt and
Sunnyside I prefer – because it has the two-two-one configuration that three
legs of the Hitt/17th intersection will have.
And while the improvements planned at Hitt and 17th
are sorely needed and will make using that intersection much easier, I have to
wonder why the Ammon leg is being left out.
City of Ammon, can we get an answer?
My question has less to do with the typical sniping between
the cities and city residents over the perception/reality that Ammon pays less
than its fair share for improvements on Hitt Road. As the Post Register points
out, the road is the dividing line between the city – but Idaho Falls lays
claim to the road itself. If Idaho Falls residents have complaints about how
costs are divided along the road, perhaps they ought to ask their own city
council about this arrangement.
As a resident of the city of Ammon, however, and as a
regular user of Hitt between 17th and Sunnyside, I’d really like the
intersection at Hitt and 17th to match what’s been done at Hitt and
Sunnyside. The reality is, petty squabbling aside, this intersection needs
improvements on all four legs.
Publish Doleful Creatures one way or another. Well,
it’s been rejected by Shadow Mountain, But I’ve submitted it (just this week)
to two other publishers thanks to #sonofapiatch. I’m not going to be published
this year. But I’m working on it.
Edit the Hermit of Iapetus. Hahaha. Not
happening. But that’s mostly because of No. 1.
Prep for NaNoWriMo. Maybe. I’ve got a few ideas
that could go somewhere. It would be good to have another something else in the
hopper. But No. 1 still looms large. I’ve already got a few other somethings in
the hopper. But a writer writes. Always.
Write a poem or short story a week. Nope. Thanks
to Erin on Facebook, however, I’ve done a few writing prompts that could lead
to something for No. 3.
Files for the BYU-Idaho classes. Did that. Then
they changed the curriculum and I’m back to square one, and feeling pretty
A mixed bag, at best. But importantly: The bag is NOT empty.
Two requests. Which is two more than I expected to get out of this. And they're in the editors' hands. Who knows what will come of it? The eternal pessimist in me says nothing, as I know the book is light years from the looks of Mel Gibson. But maybe one of these nice ladies will see something in Doleful Creatures that I don't.
Presidential Transcripts, The; edited by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. 693 pages.
Spirit of Ricks, The; by David L. Crowder. 455 pages.
Read in 2016
Al Capone Does my Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko. 241 pages.
As You Wish; Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes. 257 pages.
Aunt Pearl's Familly Reunion Book, Personal Pointers on How to 'Farley Up' Your Family Reunion, by James Arrington. 130 pages.
Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon, by Ted White. 374 pages.
Curiosities of Medicine, by Berton Roueche. 254 pages.
Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Cabin Fever, by Jeff Kinney. 217 pages.
Diary of A Wimpy Kid, the Long Haul, by Jeff Kinney. 217 pages.
Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, by Jeff Kinney. 217 pages.
Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, by Jeff Kinney. 217 pages.
Doleful Creatures, by Brian Davidson. 380 pages (Beta read).
Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett. 377 pages.
How I Got This Way, by Patrick F. McManus. 240 pages.
Interesting Times, by Terry Pratchett; 295 pages.
Le Ciel Lui Tombe sur la Tete, by Albert Uderzo. 47 pages.
Monstrous Regiment, by Terry Pratchett. 351 pages.
Never Sniff A Gift Fish, by Patrick F. McManus. 217 pages.
So, Anyway, by John Cleese; 392 pages.
SpongeBob SquarePants Experience, The; A Deep Dive into the World of Bikini Bottom, by jerry Beck. 160 pages.
Titus Groan, by Mervyn Peake. 396 pages.
Unseen Academicals, by Terry Pratchett. 400 pages.
What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness, by Stanley Bing. 148 pages.
Ze page total: 5,547 pages.
The Best Part
Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
"In my experience Miss Crisplock tends to write down exactly what one says," Vetinari observed. "It's a terrible thing when jouralists do that. It spoils the fun. One feels instinctively that it's cheating somehow."