Thursday, October 31, 2013

Did I really hear that? Do that? Say that?

A strange thing happened yesterday when the Boston Red Socks won the 2013 World Series and sent our boys home. Still love our St. Louis Cardinals, though.

There was a message on our answering machine from an editor who has published my work in the past. This editor asked if I was THE ONE AND SAME Linda O'Connell who had been published in another publication where she had seen my name.

Editor #1 was interviewing editor #2. They both are responsible for my small "claim to fame." I emailed both editors and received personal responses. Editors are people, too, not just throne sitters.

They have as many problems as writers. Their end of the writing seems glamorous to the average writer, but editors have so much more to consider than grammar, punctuation, word count, page layout, advertising. In some cases dealing with individual authors is like having a classroom of students with diverse and special needs; everyone, including administrators, raising their hands at once making requests.

If you have doubts or questions pertaining to a publication, politely contact the editor with a brief correspondence. They are too busy for chit-chat and don't care what your weather is like. Be concise and professional. Always leave your contact information, do not assume the editor will automatically know your email address and hit the REPLY button. They are busy-busy-busy.

I have worked with many editors, and I've received personal messages from several that have motivated me to continue writing when I have been filled with self-doubt.

A male editor from Parent's Magazine telephoned me years ago when I first started writing and had no idea that I had to "pitch" an idea. I'd sent a snappy personal essay along with three articles. I didn't follow any of the rules, because I was naieve. He telephoned to say, although he was in my corner trying to pitch my work to the big dogs, my submissions were being rejected. He told me, "Do not stop writing! You have a  unique voice." He spoke those words to me. Editors seldom have time to reject your work over the phone.

One newspaper editor accepted a personal essay about one of my students who'd died. He emailed to tell me that he was moved to tears by my writing. I didn't intend to make a big guy cry.

One lit mag editor commented on my writing style and said, "We are amazed at the writing, but have never received a story like this where you kill off the protagonist. The protagonist?" I left him scratching his head. He left my work in the dust, but at least I hit a touch point. I was naieve, I tell you!

An editor from Texas called to say she and her staff were all crying as they read my story, Grandpa's Little Sugar. They each had blonde, blue-eyed little girls, who wore cowboy hats, too. She said they could visualize my little granddaughter singing the Barney song at my dad's gravesite wearing his western hat. I made a connection. This editor contacts me from time to time to see if I have anything for her Mother's/ Father's Day issues.

An East Coast editor telephoned and left a message on the answering machine. Her voice sounded like my aunt's, so I didn't react too strongly when she praised my writing, until she mentioned her name and publication. She asked if I would record one of my stories. So we rushed right out and bought a personal recording device, used it once and have never used it again. She did publish two of my stories, but not the audio version.

If you are like me, you cross your fingers and send your submissions off with a prayer. Just know that on the recieving end is a person just like you with his or her fingers crossed, too,  hoping your work will be the one.

Have you ever received a personal message from an editor?



Bookie said...

Great article, Linda. Yes, I have spoken with some editors. Some are hyper, some encouraging. One said she wanted to use my poem but wanted a line by line edit over the phone. In the end we changed a word and one comma...but it was fun to see how her mind worked esp. when she said my way was better.

Rain, rain, rain here.....

Connie said...

Thank you for the encouraging words, Linda. It is sometimes easy to forget that there is a human on the other end when submitting work. I've had a few written personal messages and one phone call from an editor. I haven't had much published, but those contacts and comments made my day.

Happy Halloween!

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

You make some great points, Linda. And of course you're too humble to mention that perhaps the reason you've received such encouraging contact from these editors is because you rock at what you do! They're trained to recognize talent. It's nice that they cared enough to let you know they recognized yours.

Shelly said...

This was fascinating to me, although I'm not a writer and haven't ever had any contact with an editor. Those are great tips~

Susan said...

You are the most persevering writer I have ever known, Linda. I'm not surprised you hear from editors. Most of my contacts with editors have been on newspapers I've worked for. You always inspire me to freelance more. So thanks! Susan

River said...

I've never received any messages from editors, but that's because I don't write and submit any stories. I've had a couple of comments published on the editor's page of the newspaper, but so have a million other people, doesn't really count as being published.
I've thought about writing, but that's as far as I've got, except for my blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry your team lost, Linda, but happy ours won:-) We were just watching the parade this morning. I've never submitted anything. Is that why editors are ignoring me?:-)

Terri Tiffany said...

You are a very talented writer! Yes, I've heard from editors and always feel so happy and pleased when I do. They are human like you said and busy busy so I try not to bother them unless I really need to.

Susan said...

p.s. on Monday....Hi Linda! So happy for your visits. Love your comments, too. Hope your Tuesday is terrific! Susan