Saturday, January 12, 2013

Breaking Bad Rules

The one thing that sucks about writing...

OK, wait. There are a lot of things that suck about writing. In fact, they suck so bad that whenever a young person tells me she wants to be a journalist or a novelist or a writer, I can’t help but roll my eyes. Which is so very immature. Pretty soon, I’ll start saying “whatever,” which is the word I hate most in the whole wide world. It, like saying "good hand" to the person who beats you at poker, translates to "eff you."

But there is one thing that sucks most about writing and that’s the rules. I don’t mean grammar and punctuation and all that. Those rules are fine. I mean the rules of submission. And not in a Fifty Shades way.

I’m talking about the rules you must follow to submit your work in a way that is satisfactory to the editor and his never ending pile of slush.

For instance, I wrote a short story for a contest. It didn’t win anything, so I decided to send that short story to a magazine. The contest version of the story was 1,800 words. The magazine wants 800. I spent hours cutting down the story. Then I put it in a manila envelope with an SASE, because that’s what you’re supposed to do, according to the magazine’s guidelines. I didn’t attach a cover letter because the magazine’s editors probably don’t give a rodent's hindquarters that I have a ton of writing credits. They just want writers to follow their guidelines (800 words, SASE, wait six months or more to hear from us, maybe we'll like it, but probably not), and having a ton of credits doesn’t necessarily mean my short story is right for their magazine.

Because it was so painful to follow these rules and I’m such a serious rebel (meaning I refuse to put lemon in my Diet Coke or oranges in my beer), I decided it was Opposite Day when it came to submitting my novel for consideration as a film.

Yep, this week, I broke one of The Biggest Rules of Writing and sent copies of I MURDERED THE PTA to three Los Angeles-based production companies that don’t accept unsolicited submissions. I stuck sticky notes on the cover of each copy with the words “Read this. It’s funny. Not self-published.” (Note: I have no problem with self-published books, but production companies often do.) Then I put my contact/bio info inside the book and mailed the three packets.

Here is the most likely outcome.

But, see, what I’m hoping is that the intern or administrative assistant or whoever opens the mail at these places will laugh at the book title and my little note, read the sucker, give it to someone who will option it, and then buy it for a lot of money, meaning my husband won’t have to climb ladders for the rest of his life.

Oh, whatever. A writer can dream, right?

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