Friday, March 17, 2017


Although you have hopes  for the outcome of your writing that are quite positive and lofty in nature, you can never be certain what their outcome will be, once they've been published, or publishing's distant cousin, appeared on line.

1. Every year or so, a post written to your blog on February 10, 2011, "The Editor as Chiropractor," will come back to haunt you with a comment that attempts to convince you of the value of chiropractic. You need no such convincing. No one who has gone so many times to a chiropractor, beginning when you were fifteen, needs to be convinced.

2. You are morally and intellectually opposed to the practice of paying various services that bill themselves as editorial services for essays they will send you, presumably to turn in for some high school or college assignment. To the best of your memory, you've never expressed opinions about such practises in any form of writing. You've spoken about the matter in classrooms, always in the context of the constituents of plagiarism. Nevertheless, you see responses to your blog essays suggesting these would be good subjects for high school and college papers, and maybe you should consider using your blog essays to :pick up some spare change."

3. Someone will confront you in print or in some online form in disagreement with something they thought you said--but did not in fact say--about a book you reviewed.

4. Someone reading one of your blog essays will send you a note to remind you that you did not invite writing in the second person, which is true enough, although you have been aware of and fond of the second-person point of view since a social science teacher in middle school announced in class one day that essays and stories written in the second person were neither conventional nor approved of. Middle school was the beginning of a time of great rebellion for you. In consequence, you wrote your next assigned essay in second person. 

The teacher asked you to see her after class, asked for your permission to read the second person essay to the class, congratulated you for taking a chance, then ultimately gave you a grade of A in the class, which was not a thing to please boys who were in rebellion. Boys in rebellion were lucky to get grades of C, as one grouchy math teacher reminded you.

You in fact began writing your blog essays in second person because your friend, John Sanford, by all accounts an elegant writer, wrote a three-volume autobiography and several other nonfiction works in the second person. You admired--and still admire--John Sandford's work and you despair of ever achieving his graceful narrative voice. Even when he was angry, John Sanford was elegant.

5. On at least three different occasions, individuals wrote to you demanding apology for something you were alleged to have written, but when you asked them to be more specific about what they were expecting you to apologize for, they told you to go fuck yourself, whereupon you never heard from them again.

6. You have been accused of taking yourself too seriously when writing about books few persons understand and not taking yourself seriously enough when writing about books many persons appear to understand.

7. A man who ran a used-book store would give his customers a card good for a spaghetti dinner if they browsed his bookstore for three hours, then bought at least one used book. When you asked him what you would have to do for a spaghetti dinner with meat sauce, you thought he was going to tell you go go fuck yourself, but instead he said he'd be happy to buy you a spaghetti with meat sauce dinner when a book you wrote was published.

After your first book was published, you went back to claim your dinner, but the bookstore was now the purveyor of hair and skin products.

8. At one point some years back, you inscribed a copy of a book you'd written to the then chairman of the department where you taught classes in fiction writing and book editing. A year later, your then literary agent gave you a nicely wrapped package, meant to be a gift. It was the inscribed book you'd given the department chairman.

9. A reader who told you her life had been changed by a book you'd written gave you a book she wanted you to have. From its inscription, you realized she thought you were another writer.

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