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rejection

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Rejection, and a peculiar sort of acceptance: two poles of life that I swung through in one day, last Friday. Writing is a solitary art, but in the end it’s a narcissistic pursuit and how can I not care what others say? I suspect the major requirement for someone doing this, more than talent even, is persistence and the ability to keep on going after being rejected.

Yes, I got my first rejection slip today for my novel. Well not a slip, that’s old school, but an email that started off “Unfortunately…” One thing I can categorically say, emails that begin with “Unfortunately…” are not going to end well either.

This was a submission to a literary agency that said on their website that they would only reply if they wanted to see sample manuscript pages. They don’t want you to send any manuscript pages with your submission—just a project description and author’s bio. So, I guess even though they had said they would not reply if they were rejecting it, my project must have sounded so extra special suck-y, they figured that they had better break their own rules and make sure I understood that there was no doubt that my project was worth rejecting. I feel so special.

But I’m not bitter; at least this was the one submission of the seven that I had sent out that didn’t have any manuscript pages attached. So at least I can tell myself that they didn’t really reject my novel per se.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Now ironically, on the same day I received the rejection email, I also got a weird affirmation and acceptance of my writing. Sort of.  I found out I had been plagiarized. It gave me a weird thrill to think that someone would want to rip off little old me. I have to say, I felt more flattered than disrespected. In fact, what had been plagiarized was a post on this very blog that you dear reader are viewing—it was a review I did some time ago of a mentalism magazine. (I’m not going to link to it, because, well, although I’m telling this story publicly, I don’t want to make it too public).

It turns out that another magic magazine had published a review of this same mentalism periodical. So I’m reading this first paragraph and holy crap, that’s word for word my review. The rest of the review follows the structure of my review, paraphrasing a paragraph here, inverting a sentence or two there, grabbing key ideas and key words for the rest. Actually, I’d rather they had just swiped the whole thing without trying to make it look like they were stealing it, because they really did a crap job trying to re-write it. It was kind of at the level of a high school student who copies an article from the Internet and changes the font because he thinks his teacher won’t realize what he’s done.

So, I’m upset, but I’m thinking I don’t want a big confrontation with the editor of the magazine. The review was unsigned so I figured it could have been some overworked subordinate who was getting close to deadline and had to come up with copy quickly. But I was irked, because if the reviewer had just asked me I would have gladly let them reprint the review. After tossing it about in my mind, jumping from the poles of wanting to write an angry missive, to writing instead a mild supplicating letter, I finally decide on a stark statement of fact that would throw the ball into their court:

“I was flabbergasted to see that my review of blah blah blah was plagiarized in your latest issue of blah blah blah. Is that Standard Operating Procedure?”

I sent if off with some trepidation.

Two hours later I came back to my email and saw three emails in a row from the editor:

“Hi Jack
Please let me know where?
Thanks”

“Ahh I know where. I actually didn’t know it was a review but part of the blurb of the book — I Googled the magazine to find out where I could find info on it and that came up — it read like it was a blurb to sell the book so I used part of it.
Sorry about that
Cheers”

“Jack if you can send me the link to your review and I will put it at the end of the review.
Again sorry—I really thought it was part of the magazines home page as I was searching the net to find where it was being sold and that popped up. I can’t remember what i used from it —
Regards”

What can I say? It was a real shaking my head moment. He couldn’t tell the difference between a review on a blog and a publisher’s advertisement? And then he paraphrases the rest of it? The boob was absolutely blase about the whole thing.  He thought I would be happy to have my link as an attachment to his plagiarized version. Jesus. He’s a lazy incompetent idiot who had actually nicked the review himself, and then tried to play it off as if it were no big deal.

Well, truth is, it really isn’t a big deal. But I’ll take it as an acceptance of my writing from at least one editor. “Good Enough To Plagiarize.” I shall make up the lapel pins forthwith. That’s me.  Yes, “Good Enough To Plagiarize.”