Rejection Slip Intrigue

Back in March 2006, I got a rejection slip from Weird Tales for my short story "Indications" (which was eventually bought by Pseudopod). The note started out like this:  "Thank you for letting us see your work, ‘Indications’ — and in perfect format, this time around! (emphasis added)".  I thought that second clause was kind of strange, but I just let it go.

Recently, digging through my files, I came across another rejection slip from Weird Tales, this one dated March 2003 and for another short story, "Burying Uncle Albert".  Re-reading that note, I noticed the second paragraph:

Please pity the poor, overworked eyes of editors: we need a standard, legible format.  An offense we see much too often is type that is too small; that is, anything less than 12 point (10 pitch) type line-spaced at less than 24 points (on a typewriter, no tighter than double-line spaced)…

I know that most editors at most markets don’t bother remembering the names of authors or keeping track of everything that people have submitted, but it seems odd to me that, in light of the letter from 2003, the letter from 2006 would include that second clause.  Do they have a file of every submission from every author that crosses their desk?  More likely, they have a database of all rejection slips sent out, and when they send out another one they simply cross-check and see if any other rejections have been sent to the author.

That’s the likely explanation, but I prefer the ego-stroking explanation: that the editor remembered my earlier story as outstanding but not quite right and recognized my name for the second one and remembered, "Hey! That’s the guy with that really great story that didn’t quite work and was formatted badly!"

Thoughts, anyone?

(By the way, I’ve always ensured that my manuscripts are perfectly formatted now, ever since that 2003 note.)

Dental Adventures

"Tell me about your flossing," the dentist said.

If there’s any class of professionals capable of inducing guilt trips better than a dentist, I want nothing to do with them.  This is half the reason I hate going to see the dentist; the anxiety and anticipation are bad enough, but getting the guilt trip just makes it all the worse.

"I’m like any other patient of yours," I told him.  "I’m really good for about two weeks after the cleaning or the filling appointment, then I start to slack off."

He told me that yep, that’s just what most of his patients do.  Then he said, "Let me tell you the story about flossing."  And he followed that up with how if you don’t floss, the irritation in your gums can actually eat its way through to your jawbone and cause loss of the bone, and then you’re in deep water.  "I’ll even show you a picture," he offered.

I’m not a squeamish guy in general, but real life scenes of blood and gore just sort of make me ill, and scenes of horrific mouth issues are even worse for me.  "No, that’s not necessary!  I’ve seen the pictures on the web!"  It was a lie.  I haven’t seen pictures on line, but I do recall very vividly pictures I saw of extremely advanced periodontal disease that I encountered in a dentist’s office when I was a kid.  The pictures have stuck with me.  They squick me out to this day.

Fortunately, he only wanted to show me a diagram.  He did so, and then proceeded to clean my teeth and lecture me again about flossing.  I didn’t really hear him, though; for the past few appointments I’ve been bringing in my MP3 player and listening to podcasts while he works on my teeth.  I got the feeling it was a rote lecture, though; it didn’t sound like his heart was really into it.  I don’t think he minded that I was really listening to The Sci Phi Show instead.

Bottom line: I got two cavities, which I need to go in and have fixed up tomorrow.  Dangit.

Boy, it’s really hard to make a story about the dentist interesting, isn’t it?

In other news, I’ve spent the past few days reorganizing my website; the most extensive part was taking all of my blog and journal entries from all the various systems I’ve used (from straight HTML back in 1999 and early 2000, to the home-grown PHP system I built myself, to Movable Type, which I didn’t care for) and importing them all into WordPress.  Because my earlier systems weren’t built with any sort of export or translation into XML feature in mind,  Apparently ever since I started my regular blog in March of 2000, I’ve written only about 400 entries.  That’s a lot of verbiage but it works out to not very much per year, and most of that verbiage isn’t worth reading.  In fact, some of the earlier entries make me wince in their whininess and forced optimism.

Also, in a lot of those early entries, I felt like I always had to have something interesting to say.  Thank God I got over that little annoyance.  I feel free now to be boring.  Embrace your inner bore; I have, and it’s liberating.

One thing I did find particularly interesting was the way that I’d sometimes make little comments about other people, obviously intending to make a snide or clever joke that other people might get.  Since I don’t usually get those jokes myself, they obviously didn’t work.  In one entry from 2000, I mentioned running into a boss from a previous job while waiting in the airport to fly to Portland for another job; but I have no idea at this time who that old boss might have been.

Delving into my past like this hasn’t been particularly enlightening.  The place where I can see the most evolution in in the coding standards I used while writing up the HTML and PHP.  Oh, and the increased focus on my writing.  In the early years I referred to writing as something I did on a lark.  Now it’s something I take pretty seriuosly. Go figure.

Nothing more to see here.  Move along, move along.