Editorial Stupidity

How many of you know what a Slip N Slide is?

I used one today, and I didn’t get wet. I didn’t even mess up my carefully coiffured hair. Because my Slip N Slide occurred, not on a long sheet of thin plastic flanked lengthwise by a heat-sealed tubular fold that attaches to an ordinary garden hose, making the surface very slippery, but inside my own head. It was a turbulent ride.

It started this morning when I received an e-mail rejection note from a nameless editor at Smithsonian magazine regarding an article proposal I’d sent them via their website. The mistakes in the e-mail practically sent me to the emergency room and clearly revealed who’d responded to my web proposal. Witness the subject line:

“RE: Wep Proposal”

What is a “Wep” proposal, dear readers? A stuper (short, once more, for an unblushingly stupid person) had struck again. Please note that the P key is nowhere near the B key on our keyboards (however, this may be significantly different on the keyboard of a stuper).

Never mind that he/she also misspelled the title of my piece. I was under the impression that Smithsonian put forth a magazine read by thinkers; those who had a mind and used it. I presumed that the people behind the scenes were thinkers as well. I am so naive.

Just in case “Wep” was a meaningful word, and I was the stuper, I looked up the definition on the Internet and here’s what I discovered:

Wep: Security protocol for wireless local area networks, blah, blah, blah…

I scrolled down and, towards the end of the definition, read this:

Used at the two lowest layers…

Ah ha! Now it made some sense. Someone who only utilized the two lowest layers of their brain had responded to my web proposal.

There were no errors in the boiler-plate, three sentence response. The only mistakes occurred outside the body of the e-mail, in the few parts that required some effort  – my title and the subject. I realize that the assistant to the assistant to the underling editor’s secretary probably read glanced at my piece, as they do get a multitude of queries, but even so, I dared hope for a dash of editorial finesse. I can be so demanding.

Thus began my downward mental slide. I took tiny steps backwards, tripping down a steep hill, my arms helplessly flailing, broken windmill-like. I began to harbor negative thoughts and included a dash of outrage for extra emphasis of my plight.

Fortunately, it didn’t last longer than a few minutes. I’ve learned to switch gears rapidly in order to accomplish my goals.

Go to fullsize imageThe best way to snap out of a negative mode is to take action. I don’t mean, in this case, track down the idiot assistant and make him/her write “Web” 5,000,000 times, tempting as it may be; I do mean take positive action. Send the article somewhere else (which is what I did) or work on making your piece even better. I think my writing skills have progressed, thanks to the many rejections I’ve received. I’ve often managed to get articles that were initially rejected by undoubtedly idiot editors (I am not bitter!), published elsewhere, probably because I worked a bit harder on making them better.

Negative interactions should make us think of ways to improve ourselves. Lapsing into a rage, despair or irritation does not = progress.




9 Responses to “Editorial Stupidity”

  1. dawn says:

    “The best way to snap out of a negative mode is to take action.”
    I will have this tattooed on my forehead. That should work!

  2. Agnes Mildew says:

    I have gathered, from my many encounters with editors, that it’s not what you know or how you write: it’s who you know. Unfortunately, nepotism is rampant in the publishing world. You could write a corker, but if you don’t drink with the boss’s best friend’s vicar, you haven’t got a chance.
    I wrote an article for a magazine once which was edited from:
    ‘The soil in Oman presented the Municipality with its first obstacle’
    ‘The soil in Oman, despite its best intentions, presented the Municipality with its first obstacle’

    Did you know that soil had intentions, good or otherwise?

    Nope, neither did I.

    I stormed in to the publisher’s office, demanded my hard copy back and refused to ever darken their doors again.

    The chap who edited it was married to the publisher’s sister and English was NOT his first language…But his edition made it through to the final publication since they still had it on disc.

    Thank God my name was removed from it all.

    Keep your chin up, Keli. There’s hope yet! Perhaps we should collaborate?!

  3. Keli says:

    I have to constantly remind myself of all the wise sayings I’ve collected. I don’t just want to collect them – I want to put them to use! A tattoo or two or three would do the trick!
    Oh what a complete imbecile! One of my very early posts was about another idiot editor at a large publishing house that I’d submitted a picture book to about a dog who extinguished fires. She wrote back “I like the way the dog distinguishes fires.” How in the world does one distinguish a fire? By giving it an award?
    Do you think we’ll stand a better chance against stupers if we collaborate? If so, I’m all for it!

  4. Jenny says:

    Girl, you do not want to get me started on spelling and grammatical travesties committed by those who should know better. The other day I sent an email to a major cable news station after they spelled the word “satirical” across the screen thusly: S-A-T-I-R-A-C-L-E.

    **pulls hair out**

    As for editorial rejections … well, I’m no stranger to them bad boys either.


    Chin up, Chickie! Press on. Someone will have the good sense to publish what you wrote.

  5. Elaine says:

    I’m sorry about the rejection Keli, but it is amazing that an editor at such a prestigious magazine didn’t spell check his/her reply.

    As always I take something with me when leaving:

    Negative interactions should make us think of ways to improve ourselves. Lapsing into a rage, despair or irritation does not = progress.

  6. H says:

    Well, it sounds like an organization that you wouldn’t want to be associated with anyway. Good to hear you made something positive out of the situation.

    I always enjoy reading what you’ve posted here and I’m a fan. I am slowly making my way through some of the archives and I can’t leave this site without a good laugh and a thought to ponder. Thanks!

  7. Ferd says:

    I love it! That was the Serenity Prayer in action! You can’t change the stupers, so you accept them as is. You don’t have to like them, you can boundary the shit out of them, but you can’t change them. You know that all too well.
    Then you move on to the things you CAN do.
    You’re quite the spiritual babe, Keli! ; )

  8. Keli says:

    I’m afraid I would have had to file a lawsuit if I’d viewed the word “satiracle” as it would have caused me great mental distress, loss of consortium, etc. You’re obviously stronger in that dept. than I am.
    Now if I could just find someone in the publishing biz with good sense… Thanks, Jenny!
    I’m so glad you feel like you take something with you after your visits here. I can’t hope for more than that! (And hopefully, your being somewhat entertained!)
    Thanks very much! That is exactly what I try hard to do – a laugh (or at least a mental smile) and a thought.
    I like that! A spiritual babe! That works for me! Thanks, Ferd!

  9. Onedia says:

    Keli, I go bongos on a daily basis hearing news readers, reporters, even actors spewing dialogue from a “highly educated” character who cannot grasp the basics of verb subject agreement, pronoun usage, and modifiers. I cringe when I hear things like (from people whose English is first language)

    her and me went . . .
    she is more pretty than . . .

    and other grammar rules that I learned by grade six. Is this a change in the English language that no one told me about or do the writers of TV and Film just not care. What about the people who read/say the mess? Do they know the difference?

    I myself struggle with the nuances of grammar and punctuation but these errors are like huge pimples. How could they miss them.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.