Monday, April 20, 2009

literary rejections or the agony of anticipation

Not too long ago I finally sent out a short story for a contest.  I have not done this for awhile, since high school actually. I never feel that my work is finished and therefore don't allow it to see the light of day. Nor do I feel compelled to throw it to the vultures. Just yet. Of course just yet,becomes months, then years. So a month or two ago, I just submitted.

I had all of about two people read the story, before sending it out. I realize  now that I may need a more widespread screening process. Perhaps, small doses of initial criticism may blunt the force of  my later rejection. As I was thinking this, I came upon an excerpt from a pending book on Mark Twain on another blog that addressed the issue of critique. 

First off, I have to say Mark Train has always fascinated me. When I was little one of the few movies we had was a claymation version of the adventures of Mark Twain, I mentioned it on earlier post. It was one of my only movies and therefore favorite movie growing up. Watching it , I came to realize the dark side of samuel clemens(I obviously liked very uplifting movies as a child).  I soon began to read his short stories. And then got into his bio. In fact, the character of Mark Train stuck more so than any of his initial writings. I developed a small habit of picking up his words of sardonic wisdom. Here's some of my favorites.

A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds. 
Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often. 
All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure. 
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. 

So when I came upon this list of  Mark Twain's criteria by which he had his work judged I figured it may do the trick as well. So here's the crew he always assembled to judge his work.

Whenever I am about to publish a book, I feel an impatient desire to know what kind of a book it is. Of course I can find this out only by waiting until the critics shall have printed their reviews. I doknow, beforehand, what the verdict of the general public will be, because I have a sure and simple method of ascertaining that. Which is this -- if you care to know. I always read the manuscript to a private group of friends, composed as follows: 

1. Man and woman with no sense of humor.
2. Man and woman with medium sense of humor. 
3. Man and woman with prodigious sense of humor. 
4. An intensely practical person. 
5. A sentimental person. 
6. Person who must have a moral in, and a purpose. 
7. Hypercritical person -- natural flaw-picker and fault-finder. 
8. Enthusiast -- person who enjoys anything and everything, almost. 
9. Person who watches the others, and applauds or condemns with the majority.
10. Half a dozen bright young girls and boys, unclassified. 
11. Person who relishes slang and familiar flippancy. 
12. Person who detests them. 
13. Person of evenly balanced judicial mind. 
14. Man who always goes to sleep.

These people accurately represent the general public. 

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