Untitled Piece By Unpublished Author

Posted: November 14, 2012 by S. Trevor Swenson in Home, Me & Mine
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“I’ve always wanted to sell out.  It’s just that no one wanted to buy me.” – John Waters

“Hey Ma, did you like my last piece?”
“Which one was that?  The “I Hate Paris Hilton Haiku Collection”?
“No Ma, the one after that, the four page satirical observations on the benefits of genital warts.”
“Yes honey. It was very nice. I keep telling you. They are all – very – nice.” – Mom

“Gimme some money” – Spinal Tap

I have finally started collecting rejection letters, or more accurately rejection emails.  It must have been worse ‘back in the day’ to go to the mailbox (“Hmmm, a letter from Tiger Beat. Finally, my Scott Baio, Kirk Cameron and N’Synch stalking will pay off!”), only to be denied with a letter that contains one of the more bitter pills of the English language  “…. we regret to inform you…” In a small way, I sometimes find myself wishing that I did have a folder chock full of rejection letters so I could hold it up for emphasis when my best friend is trying to cheer me up and I’m determined to stay a depressed little turnip. I’m so miserable, that sometimes I even use props. Take that goths. That’s how you really embrace darkness…old school. To date, every rejection email has been cordial, polite and best of all personalized. I have been tickled me Elmo that busy editors have taken 30 seconds to turn me down politely. It has restored some of my faith in humanity which has taken several hits this year (I’ve had to deal with insurance companies, emergency rooms, government agencies and used car salesmen.)

The one bummer about polite rejections is that it denies me elaborate revenge fantasies. Part of me likes to imagine that after Stephen king sold the paperback rights to Carrie for $400,000.00 (True story, and it was the 70s.) that he grabbed the stack of rejection letters he kept impaled on a railroad spike in his bedroom and called every single editor who rejected him and asked them how much they made this year. Fantasies of petty revenge…whatever gets you through the day.


Oh, it’s come to this has it? FINE!

Receiving e-mails that say “It’s not really what we are looking for.”, “It’s not exactly what we do here at such and such magazine.”  and “Sorry, this didn’t make our deadline.”  I’m not discouraged. Quite the opposite. I am a product of entirely too much television and too many movies. This is how it’s supposed to work. I get rejection letters until finally I get my big break.  Any day now an editor with a striking resemblance to Dolly Parton, Goldie Hawn or Holly Hunter will accept one of my submissions and we will begin an adversarial writer/editor relationship full of wacky hi jinx of missed deadlines and exclusives neatly typed up and left in the back seats of taxis. “Damn it Scott, you’re the best writer I have, but I can’t publish your exclusive on why Reality TV contests should use firearms…the chief will kill me.”  This happens in every movie and TV show, of course it’s going to happen to me.  Life is, after all, one big John Hughes’ movie.

It’s fascinating that such a heavyweight champion pessimist and curmudgeon as myself remains convinced that he will one day be the next Dave Barry or Stephen King. Hell, I’d settle for being the next Ed Anger who used to write my favorite column in the Weekly World News. (“All the news, that’s shit to print”)  I may be dead by the time my avant-garde potty humor genius is discovered, and discussed by academics in front of roaring fires while sipping a fine sherry, but I can live with that…almost.

I’ve had a rough year, so allow me my little delusions. In the world according to me, everyone gets published or gets the lead in the play eventually. I thank Heavy G for not having given me the acting bug. Having lived in both NYC and Los Angeles I have seen first hand, young people who threw caution to the wind after an excellent review in their high school newspaper for their Brando-esque performance in the drama club’s Spring production of No No Nanette. Upon graduation they immediately moved to the big city, found themselves an agent named Rocco or Shecky who eventually convinced them that George Clooney, William Shatner and Brad Pitt all got their start in low budget gay porn musical extravaganzas.

NOT what I looked like. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

My writing journey has been and is such a Hallmark Channel movie-of-the-week it’s ridiculous. My mom died in March,I tore my Achilles tendon in September (8 weeks in a cast), and I was attacked by six Jersey Shore clones 3 nights before Halloween while on crutches, wearing a vest, bandanna, and cowboy hat. (With the crutches I told everyone I was dressed as “Hop-a-long Cassidy”) The gentlemen who tried to make me taste test  the sidewalk took issue with my impromptu costume and yelled “Faggot” at me. They felt my look was more “Randy the Cowboy” from the Village People as opposed to Wyatt Twerp.  I responded with a middle finger salute and they piled out of their daddy’s car to discuss the latest in fashion with me.

My bedroom where I do my writing is straight out of Joe Gillis’ furnished hovel in Sunset Boulevard where I sit unshaven, chain smoking in a bathrobe, complete with brimming ashtrays and debt collectors calling or stopping by for coffee. How could I not be published in this circus of cliches?  Maybe for dramatic effect I should ask my Super Mario Brother’s doppelgänger landlord; Giuseppe to expedite my impending eviction notice. Anything to get these editors to recognize the F. Scott Fitz-Hemmingway in their midst.

I wont be working on improving my writing or making it more commercially viable. It’s wonderful just the way it is. I know because while in a morphine haze, my mommy told me so…and she studied English lit. I have reached that wonderful pinnacle in life which I haven’t experienced since I was 14 in that you can’t tell me anything. I once again believe in a ruling class, especially since I rule.

Speaking of mothers, last week my step-mother took a magnifying glass to my anthill and responded to the first (and last) piece I ever sent her. A week before she had emailed me about a writing class she was taking and dropped after attending once. (Isn’t it nice being an adult with the ability to tell a teacher they suck and saunter out? I sometimes register for classes for this express purpose. It’s important to keep others grounded.) I responded to her in glowing terms about how thrilled I was to hear about her class. I told her I had been writing for years, and that my college professors described my school paper review of the Spring production as Danielle Steele-esque. I know I have talent. Encouraged that I might finally have a family member who loved writing and with whom I could share my work I immediately forwarded her my latest article on the 2012 post election meltdowns. It was called…wait for it…. “Post Election Meltdowns“.  I guess my prior 6 page gushing email to her about the importance I place on writing and authors was too subtle of a hint. Unfortunately she, like everyone else, was tired of the election and put a lively crayfish in my Calvin Kleins by responding with “It’s nice that you’re writing, I’m sick of the election and could hardly read your piece. Keep it up, just not about politics.”  Awwww. thanks ‘mom’.

So happy I sent you my piece. Pppffthththththththhh

No one can deflate our ego quite like family. I’m thrilled that after my mother’s death, she has picked up the disapproval and discouragement ball and is charging to the net for a lay up. She also has 9 kids and several grandchildren of her own, so it’s nice that she can find time to dash the hopes of another who isn’t immediate family. My father isn’t a big reader, so he is out. He has been known to book mark 2 page Sports Illustrated articles. Maybe I should have waited for Thanksgiving and given the whole family a go at disemboweling my one dream that doesn’t involve Lynda Carter and spandex outfits.  After the “What I’m grateful for” speeches and before halftime in the Cowboys game we could go around the table and everyone could deliver variations of  “Have a back up plan.” in regards to my writing. Two can play at that game. When my uber-conservative step-sister asks me what I am grateful for, I can belch out one word for the benefit of her and her private school brood. “Tits”. Then we can visit the other family Thanksgiving tradition of drinking too much and dreading Christmas. What can I say? I’m a traditionalist.

My reason for writing this is to prod and nudge potential editors that my life in terms of both confidence and financial stability is reaching critical mass. It’s time for the big finale. Last week I went to my bank, punched in my PIN number and the ATM began laughing at me. I’m starting to become a little concerned. So come on editors. It’s time to publish the boy so I can blow my book advance on Johnny Walker Blue and  friendly yet sensitive, scantily clad ladies named “Lola” and thus creating even more cliched things to write about.  I’m ready to finally pay all my bills (in loose pennies to the especially mean and nasty creditors) and to embark on a book tour. I’ve kept my schedule open to write jokes for the President for the correspondents dinner.  “Barry, can I call you right back?  I’m on the phone with Netflix…thanks  youre a dove”

  1. cestlavie22 says:

    Keep your head up. I too am hoping to be published at some point. My opinion? Print out those son of a bitch rejection emails and keep them. Each one you have is one step closer to getting that acceptance. Maybe having a visual of all the steps you have taken will make the path ahead easier.

    • Thank you for your kind words and I hope you enjoyed the piece. I would keep the rejection emails except like I said, they HAVE been legitimately been kind and encouraging and not form letters.

      Things like this will certainly make us appreciate being published all that much more.

  2. Oh, families. Nobody can trash a person’s dreams quite like a relative. I don’t know how I’d handle rejection letters myself, but I suspect I wouldn’t handle them well. And by “not well” I mean I’d be fantasizing about sweet sweet revenge pretty much 24/7. And I think tits are a perfectly good thing to be thankful for, frankly.

    • I am so glad you enjoyed this piece and I am looking through your blog now as well…Commentary to follow. I have never taken rejection or cirticism well, but as I said the rejections have been personal and as kind as can be. Muah Scott


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