Grannies and Editorial Bitterness (Both Ways)
17 December 2001
Yesterday, quite unexpectedly, I started writing a fairy tale called "The Three Grannies." I didn't mean to. Didn't know I had it in me. And it's hard, because fairy tales are almost always interpreted in terms of what they say about gender. Does the hero save the heroine? Does the heroine save the hero? Or, whatever, does the hero save the hero? I just want to be able to shut that off. I'm talking about age, not gender! But of course I'm not allowed to do that, so I have to balance who's positive and who's negative, who's competent and who's incompetent. Boy, girl, boy, girl. Argh.
This is bad enough in normal stories, but at least there I feel like there's some chance of being taken in context. Also, in a modern or futuristic atmosphere, chances are very good that any group is going to be a mixture of men and women. (At least, in the kind of present I live and in the kind of future I'm interested in writing about, that's the case.) But in a fairy tale, I'm dealing with archetypes in a different way than my usual sightings of Doubt and Certainty on BART. And it has to be three grannies, for example, can't be two grannies and a granpaw. What kind of a title would that be? And the dynamic, in the quasi-medieval world of fairy tales, is vastly different. So when I choose to write a fairy tale, I suppose I have to be choosing to write about gender a little bit.
But at least if I'm aware of it, I can try to control what I'm saying.
I also worked on "Loki's Fishnets" and finished reading Coyote Blue. Three library books left; I started Catherine Asaro's The Radiant Seas but put it down again, at least for awhile; it just wasn't holding me. Started Damien Broderick's The White Abacus; we'll see how that one goes.
Christopher Moore has evidently spent time driving across Utah as well as living in the Bay Area: "From time to time someone would break the silence by saying, 'Pretty rock' -- a statement which covered the complete observational spectrum for Utah's landscape -- then they would lapse into silence for a half hour or so." I just love his setting tidbits like that, in both of his books I've read so far. Also, Coyote made me laugh, but it was mostly the kind of laughing that comes with context, so I couldn't read the bits out to Mark and make him laugh, too.
I am seized with a sudden and powerful hunger for cookie dough. At 8:30 in the morning. Drat. Not only did I not make lefse this year, I didn't make anything that could be mistaken for Christmas cookies. I haven't baked anything since before Thanksgiving. And I don't particularly want cookies. I just want cookie dough. Spritz dough, specifically, but pepparkakor dough would do in a pinch.
And why is December the worst month for the radio? Why do I have to choose between jazz, classical, oldies, and alternative renditions of "Little Drummer Boy?" The alternative station is the best at it -- it alternates "Little Drummer Boy" with Creed and repetitions of "Drops of Jupiter." I really do like that song. I do. It inspired a rather harsh SF story in my head, so I'm grateful to it. But if they played it more often, they'd have to be playing it twice at once.
My name is not Laurel. Bay Laurel is the name of the press doing WIHA. It is not my name, and if it was, "Bay," not "Laurel" would be the appropriate single-word address. But when the editor's name is plastered right on the guidelines, I don't see the problem. Also, how much of an interpretive dance do I need to do to get people to understand that stories about hating aliens need to feature aliens??? I got another good story yesterday. But I'm still shaking my head over the totally alien-free stories whose cover letters address me as "Laurel."
Well, I don't like to bitch in my journal about editors -- at least, not by name. Seems unprofessional. But one of my favorite stories has been at Deep Outside since April. I did an e-query. I did a snail-mail query. Nothing. Trey has heard from them. Tim has gotten accepted and published by them in this time frame. But they can't answer either of my queries? I mean, if they just can't find the story, saying, sorry, we haven't seen this story, go on ahead and re-send it if you like, seems like a reasonable course of action. And if they're thinking hard about it, you would think that they could respond to the e-query with, "No, we have this story; it's still under consideration." Or the paper query. Whichever. So I'm withdrawing the story after more than eight months there, and I'm wary of sending them another, ever. Not acceptable behavior. They say on their "about us" page that they prefer the term "web magazine" to "ezine" or "zine" to emphasize their 100% professional behavior. I am...amused. I hate to cross a professional publication off my list of possible markets, but if they're going to behave as though I don't exist, it seems like they've already crossed me off.
Seems like there should be a better way of handling this situation. I just can't think of one. And professionalism is not a single-edged blade. It is not something editors get to use to force writers into behaving to editors' advantage. Good editors aren't trying to use it that way, either. It's a good thing I've run into quite a few of those, or this submission thing would just get depressing.
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