by Amber Ferguson
Attention, all publishers! Beware!
We writers have joined forces––yes, your pool of sun-starved, nearsighted, carpal-tunneled slaves has accomplished a feat you believed impossible. But we are united, at long last, and as one voice we hereby proclaim:
We are sick of your obsessive-compulsive fascination with spelling and grammar!
Are we supposed to be scientists or artists? You demand the genius, the beauty, the magic of prose––yet expect the science of syntax! For what do you pay your editors? Have you popped in lately to check on them? Are they spending their workdays tracking Ebay items? We demand that you make your editors work for those big paychecks! Make them
undangle our participles, connect our infinitives, and straighten out our “there’s,” "they'res," and “theirs. ”
Now on to a few other issues. First: the (expletive deleted) query letter. Who started that? Seriously––we want a name and a physical address. You won't be held liable for the consequences. Furthermore, this is our formal announcement we shall no longer cow to this maddening requirement. Henceforth, we shall submit our manuscripts in their entirety, disregarding word count guidelines, with an accompanying sticky note. We reserve the right to use crayon.
Second, the writers' guidelines for every known publication––from Cosmopolitan to Tropical Ice Skating Monthly––read precisely the same, to whit, you require: “Fresh, well-crafted, polished writing. ” Well, we’re sick of the word “fresh. ” There is no word more stale than “fresh. ” We also hate the term “well-crafted,” and are collectively nauseated by the repetitious “polished. ” We know the drill by now.
What we want––dare we say it––are fresh, well-crafted, polished guidelines! We want you publishers to crank up your old thesauruses and sweeten things up a bit. Note the following example:
“Fresh. ” Possible alternatives: alert, newfangled, cheeky, peaches-and-cream, impertinent, and saucy.
See? No more redundant guidelines asking for “fresh. ” We demand you require impertinent writing and alert wording. We want to pen cheeky stories and dream up saucy poetry. We demand that you demand peaches-and-cream!
We also demand the freedom to format our manuscripts any way we want, while under the influence of any given whim. We formally declare our united refusal to produce any more cookie-cutter manuscripts on boring white paper. We demand the right to print poetry on pastel paper, mysteries on tan, and humor on whatever color the voices prefer at that
Speaking of which, we creative types are a sensitive lot. We demand you soften the blow of the rejection letter with a gift, such as an accompanying box of chocolates. Tickets to a major sporting event would be an appropriate apologetic gesture for the male rejects. Would a balloon bouquet really blow your budgets?
In summary, we writers demand complete autonomy, sovereignty, and freedom. We will henceforth write what we want, when we want, on whatever paper we want––and you will cheerfully publish it, or provide a nice consolation gift.
(Postscript from the typist: They made me do this. All I really want is to be published. Please note the enclosed group photo; I’m the one on the left, groveling. Also, a few of the authors believe the phrase “humor is subjective” should be banned from the English language for all eternity. And they're getting ugly about it––curses, voodoo dolls––watch your backs).
Amber Ferguson: Long Story Short previously published my essay “Under the Influence,” about my satirical addiction to Spam. In May, I placed runner up in your Mother’s Day Contest. As text below my signature, I’m submitting a humorous manuscript called “Writers United,” a flight of fancy I wrote after I received a rejection. In this piece, we authors join together in a glorious revolt against such irksome concepts as punctuation and grammar, manuscript guidelines, and the impossible-to-get-right query letter (this one being a perfect example). Besides my writing credits with Long Story Short, I’ve won five additional writing contests. My most recent credit is as a contributor to the book Humor for a Teacher’s Heart, a compilation, released in July. Contact Amber.