Dear Mr. O’Neil,
Thank you for sending your manuscript. However I am at odds as how to respond to your writing. There is a darkness I find unsettling. If I am to believe it actually is memoir then you are not a person I want to know, let alone represent. Your manuscript is not commercially viable, or a type any publisher I work with would want to acquire. That you insist on using fuck as every other word does not help. Profanity is not an alternative to well crafted expression. It does not convey emotions and it alienates women readers. I encourage you to reevaluate your approach to this disconcerting subject matter and perhaps enroll in a creative writing class for a more positive direction. At this time, for the above reasons and much more, I have to decline. I do not feel that I am the appropriate agent for your work.
_________ Literary Agency
Dear Patrick O’Neil,
Thank you for sending us “____________.” We’re sorry that we will not be able to use it, but we appreciated the chance to look at your work.
I don’t comment often, but I wanted you to know that I appreciated the humor and the punchy prose. I was intrigued by the narrator and the crying girl. I understand it is nonfiction, but you might consider exploring it as if it were fiction. Try describing what the narrator is wearing and what he likes to eat. Then have someone else, maybe a love interest, interact with another character. Or even if they had a pet, like a dog. I think then it’d be very strong and worth sending out again.
Best wishes, __________
Thank you for sending “____________.” I really like it and wanted it for the next issue. However I am almost certain that you have previously submitted this same excerpt of memoir, and I turned it down the first time. Now I am at a dilemma. Should I stand my ground on the previous decision, or break precedence and accept it. Really you are at fault. Whatever decision I make is due to your action. I will confide with the intern reader to see if I am correct, and get back to you shortly.
Appreciated you giving me the opportunity to read your work, again.
Dear Patrick O’Neil,
Thank you for sending us “_______.” We appreciate the chance to consider it, and thank you for taking the time to submit to us. Unfortunately, while this particular work was not right for us, we were intrigued by it. Please consider submitting something more intriguing to us in the future.
Thank you for your submission to ________. Unfortunately, it’s not what we’re looking for at the moment.
We hope this isn’t the last time we hear from you, though. To thank you for submitting, we’re offering you a $6 discount on one year subscriptions. That means you’re getting two issues of ________ for the price of one. We know how hard you worked on your submission, so it’s the least we could do.
Thank you for sharing, and we hope to hear from you sometime soon.
Thank you for submitting to _______ . Unfortunately, we will not be publishing your submission, but, we are thrilled to invite you to our new writing contest. First place winners will receive a cash prize and publication. Second place winners will receive publication. Please send us your best work and the application fee.
We look forward to receiving your submission and fee.
- The Editors at _______
Thank you for the opportunity to read “_________.” Unfortunately, we’ve decided we won’t be able to publish this story. Recently we’ve received a sizable amount of submissions that glorify drug use, yours included, and have decided that _______ needs to take a stand for what’s right in our community and for our readers. Hence forth ________ will no longer accept your work.
Thanks for your interest in our magazine.
Dear Patrick O’Neil,
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider “________.” We regret that the piece does not meet our needs at this time. We received hundreds of submissions for this issue, and we appreciate everyone who shared their work with us. But in the end our needs are more important.
The Editors at __________
Dear Mr. O’Neil,
My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. It has been a really busy season, lot of authors with lots of manuscripts. I appreciate you sending me your book. It is a bit intense and not what I am typically used to reading. I am curious as to why you sent it to me? The authors and their stories that I represent are not similar in any way to your story. I do not mean to judge, however I’m perplexed. I feel it would be better for you if you found an agent that was more experienced with the criminal element.
Dear Patrick O’Neil,
We appreciate the opportunity to read your work, but we’ve decided not to publish “________”.
Thank you for trying.
The winter issue of ______ has been a long time coming and has been further delayed. Our graphic designer, ______’s, laptop went kablooey. She’s working on getting a new one, but for now the next issue is on hold. If you’ve submitted and haven’t heard from us, we’ll be with you as soon as we can. If you’re waiting on the edge of your seat for the next issue, please be patient with us. We will bring you something great as soon as we can.
Dear Mr. O’Neal,
Thank you for your submission and for your interest in ________. Though we enjoyed your writing, we will not be able to use it. We were flooded with quality submissions for this issue, which made our job both enjoyable and difficult. We were only able to accept the best submissions. However, we want to encourage you to keep sending out your work and wish you the best in finding a home for this work.
Sincerely, the editors
_________, editor-in-chief of _________
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That awkward moment: when you realize (or really just suspect) the upstairs neighbor has been listening to you YELL at yourself for the last ten minutes – and then in an effort to sound as if it were a phone conversation, you abruptly scream, “goodbye.”
That awkward moment: when you’re hugging someone, someone you know, but they’re not family or an overly close friend, and you let go first while they’re still hugging. Only you feel weird for letting go first, so you go back in for that clumsy second hug as they continue to hold you in their arms, not letting go. And you’re thinking, “what the fuck?! How well do I really know this person?” Or, your codependency kicks in and you hold on for dear life because this time you don’t want to be the first one to let go as that would make it appear you don’t care for that person. But then the urge to get away scrambles into your brain and you almost go into feral cat mode clawing and squirming to get out of their embrace, but mercifully they finally let go and you both act like all is normal.
That awkward moment: when you’re introducing someone you know very well to your girlfriend only right at the very last second their name disappears from your brain and you’re left grasping and instead you do that clumsy save maneuver and say to them, “this is my girlfriend” there by hopefully forcing them to have to introduce themselves by name, except they don’t and then you’re all standing around staring at one another nameless.
That awkward moment: when you ask someone “how’s it going?” and they actually start to tell you, all yammering on about their life and what they are doing. Only you didn’t really want to know, in fact could care less, you were just being polite, and now you’ve got to stand there and act like you give a shit, or at the very least pretend to be paying attention when actually your brain is screaming “shut up, shut up, shut the fuck up!” But instead you stay silent, keep on smiling, and nodding your head.
That awkward moment: when you’ve been working on the computer for over 10 hours straight and your brain is numb and your eyes are totally out of focus and you decide to get out of the house and go to the store. And after wandering around said store like a rabid zombie crashing off a 72 hour crack run you grab some horrible sugar infused crap to shove in your mouth, like eating it is somehow going to make you feel normal, and then you’re at the counter clutching the useless “snack” the guy that works there tries to make small talk and you realize your over exhausted brain has been rendered incapable of communication so instead of engaging in useless banter you mumble and slur some gibberish nonsense, hand him way too much money, and then run outside without your change.
That awkward moment: when you wake up and your sinuses are full of snot and your head is about to explode and you realize you’ve a cold, and you lay in bed mentally retracing every possible culprit that could’ve slimed you: sweaty palmed guy at the meeting who insisted on shaking your hand, stinky homeless guy that didn’t hold the store door open so you had to touch it exactly where his greasy trashcan digging hands had been, gothy half-dead looking sniffley barista that made you the worst latte of your entire life… And just when you’ve narrowed it down to the most likely suspect (gothy half-dead looking sniffley barista) you realize it’s probably just allergies because whacky global warming weather final got the temp up high enough for shit to be blooming right outside your apartment window. Mumbling, “curse you nature,” you roll over and go back to sleep.
That awkward moment: when you check your bank account online only to find some scuzzball scammed your debit card and PIN# and has been making copious withdrawals and your once “thank-god-I’m-not-totally-broke” balance is now teetering on totally depleted. So you call your bank’s 1-800 fraud line and while you’re talking to the most helpful representative in the world who calls you sir and says shit like “so sorry for the inconvenience” your mind gets stuck in a continuous loop reliving the past remembering all those times you walked into a bank and robbed them at gunpoint. Feeling a bit self-conscious and somewhat hypocritical you can only mumble a quick “thanks.”
That awkward moment: when you’ve gotten pulled over for a minor traffic infraction and the cops have run your plates only to find every offense you’ve ever been charged with. And of course in all the excitement your “assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer” charge pops up. Now mind you, you were never convicted of this offense, it was a charge added on with all the other charges of your last armed robbery, and basically it was when the cops came to arrest you and when they kicked in the front door of your apartment you put up your hands in an effort to protect yourself and it’s possible they construed this as aggressive, but not probable and definitely there was no deadly weapon involved only the possibility of a gun on the premises, none the less they freaked out and beat the shit out of you and the rest is, as they say, history, except it’s permanently part of your “rap sheet” and so now there’s three patrol cars and six cops behind you, all of them with guns drawn, and some 23 year old rookie yelling for you to exit the vehicle with your hands in the air, which is sort of hard in a lowered two seater sports car.
That awkward moment: when you first awake and you’re all warm and sleepy headed and the day just seems like it’s gonna be okay, and then you’re instantly deluged by all the memories of what a shit-storm yesterday was; the anxiety of dealing with your hijacked bank account, how you screamed at some poor FedEX guy who was not the dumbass driver that’s incapable of delivering a new debit card to your door, or the flunky at the bank you repeatedly called a fuckin’ fucktard, or your next-door neighbor you basically scared the shit out of for no reason other than you can, or a plethora of other equally stupid and insensitive comments you made to friends, which of course includes your girlfriend. Or buying the worst thai takeout ever that you eventually threw up all over the bathroom you’d just cleaned, or dropping a $16 bag of ground Intelligentsia coffee on the living room rug that split open going everywhere, or banging your shin on the mahogany bed frame for the 300th time, or being in such a manic anxiety ridden spastic fury and using the worst judgment/poor impulse control you deleted 20 pages of memoir you’d been working on all week because it sucked balls instead of trying to revise/salvage it, or finally, how everyone in your building saw/heard you out in the courtyard a 2am, fist raised, screaming at the full moon and you can’t blame drugs or alcohol… and you’re lying there, covers over your head, wondering if today’s really going to be worth getting out of bed for.
That awkward moment: when you run into a person you’ve never seen in the courtyard of your building, they smile say, “hi, I’m your new neighbor” and you’re suddenly mentally calculating all the neighbors you’ve had over the years you’ve lived here: the annoying rapper, his all night parties, shouting inebriated guests, and the bass/drum of his stereo still lingering in your psyche, dreadlocked Burning Man couple that fucked 24/7, whose bed endlessly banged the shared wall of your apartments (their overly exaggerated moans of ecstasy you always thought faked), grumpy drunk woman upstairs in apt.13 that has driven into your car in the parking lot (not once, but twice), stoned skater dude always asking for a smoke even though three years ago you told him you don’t, homophobic/sexist heavy metaler next-door that constantly tries to engage you in asinine conversations, old Russian woman you suspect adopts and then eats local stray cats, stand-up comedian whose schtick is AIDS jokes, drugged out stripper and the echoing clomp of her high heels on the stairs like clockwork every morning at 3am, scary half naked woman that always calls you “baby” and has invited you to drink gin with her on numerous occasions, tattooed thug the cops finally dragged out of here in cuffs for beating his wife for the 100th time, meth-head tweeker building a spaceship in his studio apartment with power tools, aspiring actress/waitress (you’ve seen only once) asking for a $20 loan, crackhead that lit her kitchen on fire, pathetic junkie whose rotting dead body stunk up the place for weeks, and the Armenian gangsta that has mean mugged you from day one… and you think, “do I really wanna know you?” and then acting like you didn’t hear them you keep walking without responding.
That awkward moment: when you walk into the first class of the semester and all the students are either staring at you with those fearful first time being in college zombie like eyes, or they’re sizing you up trying to figure out if you’re a push-over or a hard-ass, and if it’s one, or the other, or both, how can they use it to get over on you. And of course you’re checking them out as they check you out and even though you’ve done this a million damn times now your insides are screaming “run away, run away” because somewhere deep down inside your already drastically low self-esteem has plunged even lower and your self-loathing has risen to epic proportions and you’re afraid they’re gonna figure out that you’re a fraud, you really don’t know shit, you just sort of fake it up there in front of everyone. And then this timid kid shakily raises her hand and haltingly asks a question that only you know the answer to and suddenly without having to think about it you go all teacher mode and these seeming intelligent words spring forth from your lips as you comfortably layout exactly what’s expected of each student this semester and suddenly you relax, disaster averted, at least for the next five minutes.
That awkward moment: when you’re sick as shit and have googled your symptoms only to find that you’ve either been bitten by the dreaded tsetse fly and you’ve got the zombie sleeping sickness eating away at your braincells (only you’ve never been to Africa, so it is highly doubtful you’ve been bitten by said fly, let alone even seen one), or you’ve got a combo-platter of diphtheria/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and you’ve been checking out the full color autopsy photos of dissected lungs wondering just what stage yours is and how scared and gooey the insides look, and is the diphtheria worming a hole through your nostrils and into your esophagus? But then hopeful the myocarditis will kill you quicker and then your phone rings and its your doctor and she says to relax, and while yes it’s true you’ve first stage early emphysema (dumb-ass-three-pack-a day-chain-smoker-for-twenty-years), right now you’ve only got the flu, and you should drink plenty of liquids, gets some rest, quit being a whack-o, and for the love of god stop googling shit. And now you’ve got to call back the funeral home and tell them to cancel that eighteen gauge brushed natural gunmetal finish steel casket with the black velvet interior.
That awkward moment: when you’ve been working this manual labor gig for the last few days because… well, because you’re broke, there’s bills to pay, rents due, and baby needs some news shoes, only last Thursday you bought lotto tickets for mega-million, super lotto and power ball and you haven’t checked to see if you’re a winner and now all of a sudden you’re pissed because what if you did win and you’ve worked your ass off for nothing – you could be a millionaire baby, and not know it!
That awkward moment: when you’re telling a person you somewhat know but isn’t a close friend about an incident that happened to you and they say, “I know, read it on your Facebook.” And then suddenly it occurs to you what an over divulger you’ve become, broadcasting your every move on any and all social media networks known to mankind and you realize that it isn’t so much that you need to get a life, but that you need to perhaps not be so lackadaisically giving it away, as now you’ve no chit-chatty material for small talk, a social skill that has always eluded you, and immediately you’re consciously aware that all these future unavoidable awkward social interactions you are now foreseeing have been reduced to nodding your head or mumbling a quiet, “not much” when asked that dreaded question: “hey dude, how’s it going?” And so here you sit, fingers poised on the keyboard, thinking perhaps it better you not write about anything that has remotely shit all to do with you… ever again.
That awkward moment: when you’re writing an email to a friend, a friend who really helped you out, and its early morning, well, early for you but maybe not the rest of the world, and you’ve only had a few sips of coffee, and the words aren’t coming very smoothly, in fact the whole thing seems a chore just to get a couple of sincere sentences down, and then finally you think it enough and hit send. Only right after you do you’re left staring at your reply and there’s numerous mistakes, like a kindergartener wrote this, a dyslexic Ritalin infused kindergartener with poor impulse control. Plus you didn’t really convey the heartfelt appreciation you originally planned. So as your internal anxiety raises up a notch, and in an effort to rectify what you’ve just done, you hastily composed an addendum email, sort of a retraction/footnote, this time saying what you had originally intended, an email that hopefully the recipient will read consecutively with the first “horrible” one, and your fingers are flying over the keyboard, you’re thinking, “I’ve got this, no prob.” And again you quickly hit send only to see that what you had just thought so brilliant is really another bit of noncommittal gibberish, and now you’re staring at the laptop, latte in hand, left wondering when it was that you became such a illiterate wanker whose brain has obviously stopped working.
That awkward moment: when perusing photos of yourself taken at a past event. And you’re wondering just what the hell was going on with your mouth and eyes and why you look like you’re in pain (or is it just your soul screaming to be free)? And then you worry that maybe people always can sense your acute social anxiety, and that’s kind of not cool, that you’re so readable, not to mention emotionally challenged. Plus, most of those folks are your friends, so why the stress buckaroo? Yet you still get up and go into the bathroom to stare in the mirror and goddamn if you don’t look like that all the time.
That awkward moment: when your Internet goes out and you’re convinced it’s your sleazy-ass next-door neighbor splicing into the cable, yet once again. And you storm out of your apartment ready to kill his ass. But instead you see him in the courtyard heading toward the back parking lot where the main connection box is. So you run after him thinking he’s getting slicker, he’s got help this time with someone else doing the splicing. Only to run into an official cable installing lackey up on a ladder and said sleazy-ass neighbor standing there chatting away. And when he sees you he’s all nice and polite, and says, “hey dude, finally gettin’ Internet. Like, all legit, and shit.” And though your outward expression and mannerisms appear that you’re happy for him, you even slightly smile, you still have to resist the urge to bitch-slap the living shit out of him… yet once again.
That awkward moment: when you run into a person on the street and they say, “hey, did you take care of that thing we talked about the other day?” And: 1. you have no idea what “thing” they’re referring to. 2. you can’t recall talking to them. And 3. (and this is the most important) you have no fucking idea who the hell they are. So you stand there and sort of meander around their initial question making with that excruciating small talk you love so well, hoping they’ll let slip some pertinent information that will give you a clue as to who they are and what they’re yammering on about. Only they don’t and you’re left racking your brain thinking you’re experiencing an early episode of Alzheimer’s, or those damn “this is your brain on drugs” TV ads from when you were a kid have finally come true, or maybe it’s just some elaborate con-game scam they’re trying to pull you into – only your bank account is beyond low, your credit cards are maxed out, and you own nothing, so what in hell would they hope to gain from you? So instead you just say, “no, haven’t had the time to take care of that thing.” And then they say, “ok.” You both then mumble goodbyes and then as you watch them wandering off you’re left a tad confused and thoroughly exhausted from way too much human interaction before your morning coffee.
That awkward moment: when you’re at a social gathering that for some reason you’ve agreed to go to but really isn’t “your people” and everyone is drinking and it totally doesn’t bother you because who cares and drunks are obnoxious anyway – except that then there’s always that one person that has to ask: “why aren’t you drinking?” And you can either say: 1. “I don’t drink” and leave it at that (except most people won’t leave it at that and will then pester you to join in and have fun “come on, just have one”). Or, 2. explain why you don’t drink going all “I’m in recovery, haven’t had a drink in over twelve years” – which makes everyone so fuckin’ weirdly uncomfortable as they then seem to have to justify their drinking: “oh really? Actually, I only drink on weekends,” “I’m only having a glass of wine,” “I don’t usually drink hard liquor,” “been thinking of quitting…” etc. (and the reality is you care fuck all when/where/how/why they drink – all you know is it just doesn’t work for you any more). Or 3. (which is the preferable route) tell the truth and say, “believe me, you don’t want me drinking. Because first of all what you’ve got here isn’t enough and not the type of dope I really want. But I can promise you, as soon as I get a buzz-on? I’ll definitely end up robbing y’all so I can go buy the drugs that I really crave… But before that happens, what I’ll do is get really sloppy, cry in my beer, and then punch one of you out.” Which pretty much brings any continued social interactions to an abrupt halt and then while they’re all staring wide-eyed with mouths open and slowly backing away you’re left alone/ignored for the remainder of the time you uncomfortably meander about wishing you hadn’t come.
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