Telling a man no is a very delicate process for a lot of women. Even when I departed from the Worst Date Ever, I quietly said, “It was nice meeting you. I’ll call you,” and then vowed to never respond to him again as I walked away. Rejecting him to his face seemed like a dangerous move, and in a world where women have been stabbed for refusing to respond to street harassment, it’s a reasonable assessment to make.

You see, cisgender straight men, we women are taking massive risks by going on dates with you. Comedian Louis CK once described a woman going on a date with a man as being only able to date a half-lion, half-bear and going “oh, I hope this one’s nice.” Problematic though Louis is, this analogy is particularly apt for the risks women take in dating men. I don’t think men realize what a risk it is.

—  Talking today about rejection. Whomp whomp.
Once you stop being frightened of saying no, that’s when you can say a real yes when it’s yes. When you stop being frightened of getting told no, that’s when you stop being frightened of their yes not being really yours, and you no longer need to worry over either a yes or a no like a dog with a bone about to be snatched. Get good with rejection, and you’ll be able, finally, to be accepted. And cherished. And celebrated. Every once in a great while. And you’ll know it’s yours.
—  The Sunday Rumpus Essay: Get Rejected by Lisa Carver (excerpted from her book How Not to Write)
I’m sorry that I can’t stop looking at your lips every time that you speak to me. I’m sorry that I smile every time I admire you in silence, and look away when you catch me. I’m sorry that I try to cover it up by mocking you or making fun of you. I promise that I have words in my head and feelings in my heart that want to be poured out for you but I’m waiting for the right moment. I’m sorry that the right moment isn’t right now. I’m sorry if I rush it, or if I delay it too long. I’m not familiar with how to deal with so many feelings. I’m not used to it; it’s like you are the only reason my numb heart has begun to beat and I need time to adjust to the sudden throb in my chest. I’m sorry that I don’t know how to do this and I’m sorry that I’m not good at this. I’m especially sorry that it’s you. I’m sorry that out of all the people, my heart chose you, the one I could never reach. I am truly sorry that it is you and that I’m not a better person, that I’m not good enough.

lalanene333 asked:

Quick question: What's the worst thing you've ever seen in a query letter?

This:

image

I referenced it in a previous post (though I got the state wrong) - and it remains taped up next to my computer. I’ve given this letter some thought since the original post - as I’ve changed offices twice and retained it both times, I have the occasion to question every element of my workspace - and there is no one reason I keep it. I get that numb off-site sadness at being confronted by a stranger’s sad story, the suspicion that anyone who reads query letters feels when the text of the letter is designed to engender sympathy, and anger.

Anger at myself because it would have taken me zero effort to call that redacted cell phone number - it wouldn’t take much for me to tell this person that while we appreciate the letter and the contents therein, they will have no success sending blind faxes - no matter what her book is.  

Anger at my industry because we like to laugh about the “crazy” and “pathetic” attempts people make to get our attention - as if every single successful book was published by a bunch of people being polite and respectful to each other - and how we’ve learned to shut down all of our empathy when we sense a stranger approaching who wants to climb whatever ineffable golden ladder they think we oversee. We phrase things carefully, we give no contact info, and we comport ourselves as smoothly and briskly as we can so that this person will Just. Go. Away.

I have hand-written reply notes to jail mail; I have (amateurishly) edited full manuscripts for no charge simply because I can’t stand the idea that someone who wrote a manuscript, even (especially) a badly conceived and poorly written one, doesn’t deserve honesty instead of indifference. I have always said “email me what you have” instead of “not interested”. I will never stop doing this. But I know, above everything, that I am limited in my professional and personal capacities, and that letters like these written by people like that will almost definitely remain in the Motel 6’s of the world. Good or bad, wrongheaded or not, properly formatted or crayon - it doesn’t matter what I do, or they do, that will never stop happening. 

Which is a necessary and fantastically sad concept that we in publishing rush ourselves toward being inured to, because we only have so much emotional energy to direct toward all the other sadness and/or unknowns of our work. We focus on the positive because it helps us not focus on the inherently negative side of book publishing and acquisition and writing in general; failure, indifference, and getting fucked over by unknown unknowns.

So that’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in a query letter, and that’s why I refuse to forget it.