Friday Fable: The Editor and the Annoying Writer

You may know the old fable, The Wolf and the Lamb:

A thirsty lamb approached a creek where a wolf was drinking upstream. “Hello,” the lamb said happily.

The wolf took one look at the lamb and licked his lips. “How dare you muddy the water where I am drinking?” he shouted.

“But I am downstream from you,” the little lamb replied with a laugh.

“You are disturbing my peace with your bleating and bells,” the wolf snarled.

“But I lost my bell last week,” the little lamb pointed out.

“You are the nasty lamb who called me names in the winter!” the wolf shouted.

“But I wasn’t even born in the winter,” the lamb replied.

“Well, if it wasn’t you, it was your brother!” said the wolf.

“But I have no brothers,” argued the lamb.

“Well, somebody has been saying bad things about me!” the wolf shouted. And with that, he tore the lamb to pieces. So the little lamb had no chance to finish the argument.

And the moral is: A tyrant will find an excuse to justify his actions. (Or “When a wolf starts arguing with you, run like hell.”)

You’re probably thinking, “Why didn’t anyone tell me this useful fable in my childhood instead of boring me to death with that moronic race between the turtle and the rabbit?” I know. Honestly.

You may also be thinking about how the adorable little lamb starts to get annoying through the course of the story, to the point where it’s really not such an unhappy ending, is it? Which brings me to my Friday Fable….If Aesop were a modern slave to the written word, he might have called his story, The Editor and the Annoying Writer:

An aspiring writer submitted a story to an established publishing house. “My story has a spunky central character, a strong narrative arc, an emotionally satisfying conclusion, and a great marketing hook,” she told the editor. “I hope you like it.”

The editor read the first page of the story, skimmed a couple more pages, and thought, “Meh, it just doesn’t grab me.” She sent back an email, saying, “Sorry but we’re not looking for folktales.”

The writer changed a few words in her story and resubmitted it to the same editor with the note, “Since you published two original folktales last year, and it says on your website that you’re looking for folktales, I thought you might take another look at this revised version of my story.”

The editor (who was particularly kind and suffered a terrible addiction to email) skimmed the first page of the revised story and saw no significant changes. She rejected it again with the note, “Sorry, but we tend to shy away from talking animals.”

The writer fired off a quick reply, saying, “But half of your best-sellers have talking animals as their central characters. And your company history stresses its success with animal stories. Are you sure you won’t have another look? I could make the hippo a rhinoceros.”

Stop arguing, little lamb

The editor (who was really new at this and had no experience with psychotic writers) wrote back, “Please understand that my decision is final. We only publish animal folktales by established writers.”

The writer (who fortunately was not psychotic or psychopathic but just plain dumb) wrote back, “But you publish first-time authors every year and half of them write animal folktales!”

“Please do not submit to this house again,” the editor wrote. And she blocked the writer’s email from her safe list.

And the moral is: Take a hint, for god’s sake. They just don’t want it.

And that’s it for me this week.

11 Comments on “Friday Fable: The Editor and the Annoying Writer

  1. *suppresses laughter long enough to gasp* Hey! Wanted to let you know that I finished reading “All Good Children”, the other night — well… early morning, by that time. That’s right, I preferred reading your book to going the heck to bed. ‘Cause I love Max, that’s why.

    • This is too weird, Danielle, because I was commenting on your blog while you were commenting on mine! And I spend 0.0005% of my time commenting on blogs, so that’s a mathematical freakiness for sure. I’m so glad you love Max! Many people give him a hard time, you know (some have even called him “a little $#!+”). They are just too old, I think. I love him, too. Thanks!

      • Lol, that *is* crazy math! Have a field day with that, statisticians!
        And sure, Max can have a jerky ‘tude. But that’s a huge part of his charm, say I!

  2. These fables you write are fabulous – and yes, I will make sure to take the hint! I think I have the opposite problem, though – I never want to believe that anyone would want to see anything of mine until they actually explicitly say so. Veiled revision requests tend to sail right by me. LOL!

    • Thanks, Ishta! The fables are fun to write. (So if you ever want to guest post…)
      I have also misinterpreted a few revision requests over the years, and I haven’t jumped on every “happy to see other work” rejection, either. I tend to feel like I’m intruding. (But I must say, that is a much less annoying habit than pestering people.)

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