Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Best of Days, the Worst of Days

Editor/Publisher (sarcastically): I see you like to dress casually.

Jean (after looking down at the old nightshirt she is wearing): It’s 4:00 a.m. and you’re invading my dreams. Go away.

Editor/Publisher: You chose this profession. The time of day is no excuse for sloppy presentation. The writing business is very competitive, you know. Have you finished your story for Sex in the Dark?

Jean: I’m still working out the logistics of the ménage scene. Three people in a bed have so many arms and legs. It’s especially hard when they can’t see each other.

Editor/Publisher: Tsk. When you’re deprived of one sense, you still have all the rest. A real writer could easily handle this challenge. Maybe you need some inspiration (rubs something furry against Jean’s mouth and nose).

Jean: Pfft.

Editor/Publisher: And I’m still waiting for your review of War and Peace, focusing on the homoerotic subtext, with a nod to Foucault and another nod to late twentieth-century feminist lit-crit. The deadline for the theme issue of Queer Theory is already past.

Jean: Bummer. I’ll have it done this week.

Editor/Publisher leaves, but the furry thing on Jean’s face continues to interfere with her breathing. Someone furiously licks her face. She grabs the dog and puts her on the floor beside the bed, then grabs the cat and holds him until he curls up against her ribs and purrs.

At 7:00 a.m., a BLAST of salsa music comes from the clock-radio. Jean’s Spouse slides her legs out of bed, then shuffles to the bathroom. Loud barking emanates from the ground floor, while the cat flicks his tail across Jean’s face. It’s breakfast-time for the household zoo.

By 9:00, all three dogs and three cats are fed, and Spouse has gone to work. Peace and quiet! Jean brings her cup of breakfast tea to the book-strewn bedroom called the Library, and turns on the computer. There are fifty email messages from writers taking part in the Menage Festival on the Sexy Authors loop, and fifty messages about current trends in fiction from the writers of Moonshine Press on the Unconventional Authors loop.

In Jean’s university in-box, there are six messages from students asking when she will be in her office, even though she is not teaching in the summer semester. Six more messages from various administrators remind her about meetings.

Personal email #1: “Your story submission for Skin and Fur was not accepted. The quality of submissions was very high. Please consider sending us something else next year."

Personal email #2: “I am sending you my self-published erotic novel for review. I am a new writter, and my book is completley different from anything that was ever writen before. Three petite, curvy women become criminals under the Laws of Space when their spaceship crashes on a planet run by male warriors who are all 10-12 feet tall. This book is action-packed! I hope you wont notice my spelling and grammer mistakes. Please send me a copy of your review before you send it to lotsof review places.”

Personal email #3: “To all the contributors to Fast Cars, Faster Sex: I’ve organized a reading in the Bookstore/Coffee Shop in Timbuktu for next week. Three of you are already scheduled to read. I hope the rest of you can participate. Please keep me informed of your own plans to promote this book. – The Editor.”

Jean logs out of all her inboxes, and opens her unfinished story for Sex in the Dark. She reads the first sentence: “When Lyndsey accepted the invitation to Laurel’s party, she had no idea what to expect.”

Too lame. Not enticing enough. Jean puts parentheses around the opening sentence (not wanting to delete it yet), then types in: It was the best of parties. It was the worst of parties.

Too derivative. She tries: Call me Lyndsey (even though my parents named me Olivia after my grandmother). But changing the whole story to first-person POV and working the name issue into the plot would require a lot of revision.

She tries: All fun parties are alike, but every social disaster is disastrous in its own way. She decides that the editor would find this too discouraging to the horny reader.

Jean decides to skip ahead to the unfinished ménage scene. She rearranges some body parts on the screen.

Spouse phones to ask Jean to bring her forgotten notebook and a snack to Spouse`s work. She is stuck in the office during her coffee break. Spouse says she has been really busy, and asks Jean what she has done all day.

Before leaving the computer, Jean checks her emails again. There is a message from a fellow-author (Rachel Green) who has generously given permission for Jean to post the above sketch, based on Jean's photo, wherever she wants. Rachel has never seen Jean in person, which would require some serious travel, since they live half-a-continent and one ocean apart.

Jean decides that fame arrives in unexpected ways.

Before setting out for Spouse's place of work, she decides to get a coffee from a coffee-shop along the way, and finish her review for Queer Theory before finishing her story for Sex in the Dark. At least the unpaid review is likely to get published, probably within two years.

A writer must live on hope as well as caffeine.


  1. Why is it that the funniest stories are also the most painful?

    Not to mention the most true...

    A minor masterpiece, Jean! Seriously.

  2. Editor nightmares? Great. Now I have something else to look forward too. I love the unsolicited MS part though.

  3. Lisabet, you're very kind.

    Kathleen, some of my writing-related dreams or nightmares have been even funnier than the one described here. I'll dream about being a character in my own sex-scene-in-progress, and one of the other characters turns out to be an editor/publisher/reviewer, i.e. someone completely inappropriate who is Not Amused.

    Re the unsolicited novel, I don't think it's possible to exaggerate this stuff. I'm seriously concerned that if no one has thought up the planet of the 10-12-foot warrior men yet, this novel may yet appear - preferably not as a PDF attached to an email to me.

  4. Actually I thought this was quite realistic, especially the last line about hope.


  5. I found this just delightful! Thanks for sharing, Jean.

  6. Brilliant!
    The trick to three-in-a-bed is a big bed. Trust me. I have two wyves ;)

    and Oh! you used my drawing! Lovely!