Let’s step once again into the role of the unconvinced, perhaps even curmudgeonly or fool-hearted editor: What harsh rejection letters might the authors of some of our favorite hit books have had to endure?
This issue’s contribution comes from Kristina Wojtaszek, who tackled Eric Carle’s children’s classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
March 2, 1968
Dear Mr. Carle,
Thank you for the submission of your colorful book THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR. We appreciate all efforts to bring the natural world to life for our young readers. Unfortunately, I found quite a few holes in your story.
I’m going to assume you meant your main character to be a representation of the azalea caterpillar (Datana major). This is the closest match I can make to your fearsome, redheaded caricature. It seems you intended the caterpillar to be the larva of a butterfly (in which case you should have called its “home” a chrysalis), but this species is in fact a drab moth. I’m sure you can see how this could be quite confusing for a budding
If you find yourself having a difficult time sustaining one tone over a long work, try these three tricks.
1. Find a paragraph that sounds exactly the way you want to sound for this work, and tape it to your computer so that it’s always in front of you.
2. Each time you’re about to return to the piece, spend 20 minutes reading the work of an author who writes in the tone you’re after. We’re natural mimics. You might try taking this a step further by more closely examining the sentence rhythms and word choices and looking for ways to make them your own. John Lukacs once said, “Style begins the way fashion begins: Somebody admires how the other man dresses and adapts it for himself.”
3. Starts and finishes are especially important to tone. When revising your work, try moving some of your best sentences, the ones with energy and just the right tone, up to the top of your document: “I’m so looking forward to Christmas this year. It will be the only
1. Jar Jar Binks and Liam Neeson (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace)
Though they were on-screen allies in The Phantom Menace, Binks and Neeson despised each other in real life. Binks said Neeson’s off-camera pranks and goofs created a silly atmosphere on set, which detracted from the serious tone of the film. Neeson thought Binks was a stick in the mud who didn’t know how to have a good time. Allegedly the two haven’t spoken in years.
2. Mister Rogers and King Friday (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood)
These two had a falling out in the ’60s when King Friday tried to make the Neighborhood of Make-Believe a Communist state. Rogers, a staunch capitalist, called Friday “a dang dirty red… pardon my language” in an interview with Starzmagazine. Friday didn’t even attend Rogers’ funeral in 2003.
3. Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy (The Muppets)
Kermit was notoriously distant from the other Muppets. After shooting a scene he would reportedly walk up his trailer stairs, stop, sing two verses
Not so long ago, when you were ready to share your writing, your only option was to collect a few creative people with printouts of their manuscripts and bring them together in the same place. Many writers still critique this way—sitting together around a café table or living room. The feedback they receive and the relationships they build are an important part of their writing lives.
But today, we have more choices. The Internet offers possibilities most of us never imagined, and the evolution of critique forums is no exception. Some writers seem to think online critique groups are simply a fallback for those who can’t find an in-person group—but in fact, online forums offer their own unique set of advantages for critiquers. More and more writers are making active choices to critique online, and they’re reaping the benefits.
Whether you’re considering critiquing online, or already using these forums but wondering if you’re approaching them the best way, read on to find out how to master the domain.
Maximizing the Medium
Everybody has their reasons for communicating on the Web, from a tight schedule to a portable lifestyle to an introverted personality. Among
But as long as you view your writing as art and your self-promotion efforts as the furthest thing from art, your chances of ramping up a successful 21st-century writing career are going to remain slim to none.
These days, there’s an art to writing and an art to self-promotion. From the moment you start putting words to the page, it’s never too early to start thinking about how you’re going to share them. And once you begin to see your writing and promotional efforts as equally artful, something wonderful starts to happen: You find readers.
Books aren’t written overnight—they’re developed one day at a time. And it’s the same with our platforms, which comprise all the ways we make ourselves visible to our readers. The idea that you need a platform might seem overwhelming at first. But if you consistently take small steps to put yourself out there, before you know it, you’ll have built a strong, sturdy foundation for your work.
So, if you’re the kind of writer who prefers being read to being unknown (who doesn’t?), here are 50 quick, simple ways to launch your platform into action. Think of each small step as
College Humor. It doesn’t matter if you are 5, 10 or even 25 years out of college. The epic humor on this site is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and continuously spam all your friends on Facebook. Who could pass up hits like 5 Websites Your Parents Think Exist, John Stamos’ Guide to Cuddling and classic infographics such as Flowchart: Does the Person You’re Talking to Want to Hear About Your Dream?
The Onion. One of the most popular satirical newspapers on the web, the Onion features humorous parodies of national and international news such as Report: Fax Machines Still Pretty Impressive If You Think About It and God Urges Rick Perry Not To Run For President.
Aiming Low. Why try to be perfect and set yourself up for hideous failure when you
Does it sometimes feel as if your writing is a dog chasing its tail you circle around and around, but keep returning to the same themes, characters and ideas? But does the thought of going down a new path cause your palms to sweat and your heart to beat like a hummingbird who’s downed a double espresso? If so, you may have SWEATS: Serious Writer Experiencing Anxiety and Timidity Syndrome. The surest sign: You have on occasion referred to yourself as a “Serious Writer” without cracking a smile.
Fortunately, you don’t need medication to cope with your ailment all you need is a shot of Comedy Writing 101.
It doesn’t matter what writing style you call home; every writer can benefit from learning a few new tricks. If you’re a fan of such bestselling authors as Carl Hiaasen, Janet Evanovich, Christopher Moore or Maureen Dowd, you know that humor can be a great tool in many different genres. But beyond that, the reckless act of trying to be funny can free any writer from the fear of taking chances and boost creativity in unexpected ways.
With that in mind, here are 10 ways you can improve
They discontinued the electric chair in Florida because they said it wasn’t safe. It was called “Old Sparky” a cute cuddly Dalmatian of a name. They said it was cruel and unusual punishment because when they strapped someone to it, the head caught fire. Sounds like it was doing the job to me.
We’ve gotten soft in the capital punishment department. Texas was one of the last states to hang people and it became the first to administer lethal injection. From hanging to lethal injection. And before you can kill someone with lethal injection, state law says you must first dip the needle in alcohol.
Whatever happened to boiling people in oil? Or the guillotine? Or hot lead? Or stoning people? Now you have to go to Saudi Arabia for good old-fashioned executions like that.
What is up with the death penalty? First it takes 30 years to exhaust all the appeals and when we finally do “off someone” it’s done in a manner similar to the Humane Society—while the guy being executed is there for eating 20 people.
Now I don’t want to soapbox here, but I have a few new ideas for
There are several ways you can use your God-given ability to produce weaponized shitclouds for personal satisfaction and enjoyment in the workplace. I refer to this category of passive-aggressive office maneuvers as “Fart Attacks.” We’ll begin the discussion with one of my favorites: Elevator Farts.
1. Elevator Farts
There are three types of elevator farts:
- Those that occur in a crowded elevator.
- Solo bombs dropped immediately before exiting the elevator and left as a surprise for the next passenger.
- One-on-one, psycho farts.
Farts in a crowded elevator require a hardened, unflinching poker face, confidence, silent farting ability (see “Fart Attack Diet” below), and most of all, bravery. It will be extremely difficult not to laugh or make eye contact with the other passengers while you’re holding your breath. In the aftermath, just remind yourself that it doesn’t matter what they were thinking, or talking, about before the fart, because it’s all they will be able to think about after it happens. The best part of the crowded elevator fart is that if you keep it quiet, they will have no idea who is responsible.
Solo bombs require timing and speed. You have to
The Zika virus spreads through the Olympic Village, jeopardizing The Games. However, after receiving a heartfelt apology from the Olympic Committee, Zika decides to be the bigger man and leave Brazil.
Severed body parts wash ashore during the Women’s Beach Volleyball Final, once again raising concerns about safety… but after Bob Costas lightens the mood with a few good-natured Robert Durst jokes, the incident is completely forgotten. During Keri Walsh Jenning’s post-game beach party, more dismembered limbs float inland, but go unnoticed.
A potentially devastating terrorist attack on Maracana Stadium is thwarted when Usain Bolt reaches out to ISIS leaders and makes things right. Italy and Israel make room for ISIS and its 56 athletes in the Parade of Nations; all is right in the world.
When the sewage in Guanabara Bay makes both athletes and tourists sick, Brazil must face the consequences of its past mistakes. However, the rest of the world recognizes that everyone makes mistakes, and forgives Brazil during a yacht party on the bay; there are no further repercussions.
Alex Morgan, Michael Phelps, and Simone Biles all suffer devastating injuries that threaten their chances at taking home the gold. Ultimately,
There are some things those without a penis just don’t understand. Though well-known facts among men, woman may not know of the several ways he pees. But let me tell you ladies, there’s more to urinating than unleashing the spout, draining the bladder, and calling it a day.
Here’s a short guide to six ways he pees that you may not know about.
1. The Fire Hose
Peeing can be a bore if he doesn’t know how to spice up his bathroom time, and if the conditions are right, he can do just that with the Fire Hose. After the beast is loosed from his zippered cage, his hands hang limp at his sides and other objects, uh-hum, limp to the front.
As the pressure builds from his beer-filled bladder, it is released in a glorious, uncontrolled stream, causing his member to flail about like a fireman’s hose, bringing back to him all of the hopes and dreams of his youth. Making the calendar, sliding down the pole to the sound of blaring alarms, riding the ladder truck and smashing doors with his ax. A manly dream.
The premise: gather together a bunch of educated, politically active millennial women to have a lively discourse on the issues of today, and the competing opinions will be fascinating! As a professor, you salivate over the possibility of contentious exchanges over sensitive issues. Your spine tingles with the thought of the abortion debate…
But if after several hours you find your hunger for debate and discourse still not sated, it is quite possible your women’s studies discussion is going nowhere.
Here is a handy list to help you ascertain if the discussion has slipped into an irreversible and possibly dangerous state of mind-numbing dullness.
1. Students are running out of phrases to express their agreement with one another.
You have blasted through the straightforward “I agree with Samantha” and “Like what Hannah was saying…” to the more creative “To piggyback off of what Miriam said…” and “In the same vein as Sara…” and students are now clearly scraping the bottom of the agreement barrel, beginning their thoughts with such phrases as, “To augment the most recent statement by adding all of the key phrases I learned as a women’s studies major…” and
They’re new, they’re obscure, they don’t even exist. But that doesn’t stop me from sharing them with you.
1. Porcine Fingerhut Damage
If you’re looking at the name and thinking, “Guided By Voices meets Neutral Milk Hotel,” then BINGO! No, actually PFD are closer to an unholy (and very entertaining) 3-way marriage of Das Racist, Fleet Foxes, and Neil Diamond—with a pinch of Neu and maybe Boris thrown in.
Plus, the upcoming self-titled album’s reported cover art (which can only be described as “fluid” by words alone) is kind of a mindblower. Definitely worth the reported $42.50 cost of admission. Add the limited-run babyshit brown/green vinyl, and BAM! Instant aesthetic masterpiece. You may not like it, but you’re supposed to (new album and title TBA).
2. Sheldon Roth and the Papal Cuts
When you “take on pretension as theater and concept,” as Sheldon Roth is wont to do in his live shows, you had better damn well do it right. And that he does. The ubiquitous grand piano is oft lounged upon but never played; the spotlight dwells upon an empty stool. Roth’s shadowy backing band, the Papal Cuts,
By day he dons his mask and hides out under the un-assuming name “Penisman.” He drives around incognito in a van called the PeePeeMobile (at least until his lawsuit with Oscar-Myer is settled and he can go back to calling it the Weinermobile) and stops at local high and junior high schools to warn innocent children of the dangers of pre-marital sex.
Dick Peter Johnson roams the streets of skid row, the halls of the prisons, and the cul-de-sacs of suburbia in search of the scum of the earth.What nobody knows, however, is that this mild-manner pseudo-superhero is actually the mysterious and powerful Dick Peter Johnson, dark vigilante.
Loved by the public, hated by the police, and always stalked by television reporter Holly Hyman, Dick Peter Johnson roams the streets of skid row, the halls of the prisons, and the cul-de-sacs of suburbia in search of the scum of the earth. The rapists, child molesters, the animal bonkers.
By night Dick Peter Johnson travels in his 1989 Yugo dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt. Nobody has ever seen him this way. Nobody would believe a superhero would fight crime with his own birth
The U.S. is in the midst of gathering Olympic medals like a mosquito collects blood. Michael Phelps, the half German/half shark “Baltimore Bullet,” has continued to dominate the pool as always, bringing his total medal count to a record 1,673 gold, 1,219 silver, and 2½ bronze. Though his superior respiratory system includes a combination of larger than normal lungs and gills located behind his earlobes, making him the perfect specimen in and out of a Speedo, there are, however, still some things I can do that Michael Phelps can’t. Here are six of them.
1. I can dance the “swim.”
Phelps may be able to cut through the water like a barracuda on crack, but can he stand in the middle of a dance floor, plug his nose, and wiggle himself down until he’s resting on his heels? I dare say his lanky arms would make him look downright foolish. I, on the other hand, am built like a sea star, allowing me to dance the 1960’s craze with grace and agility. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt that I could best Phelps at a “mashed potato” contest either—dancing or eating.