Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nasty, Nasty Writers

And NOT those who write erotica.

I'm talking about those with the maturity of a three-year-old throwing a tantrum.

I sent a rejection last night for a story that was good enough to pass through the first round of selection, but ended up being rejected by the editorial team. The next morning my inbox contained a response to that rejection that LEAPS over the border between stupidity and wisdom, landing firmly into the brown-smelly-stuff-on-your-shoes kind of idiocy that is not as rare, I'm afraid, as it should be.

You can read my rejection, the author's response, and Flash Fiction Online's Editor-in-Chief's blog concerning the whole affair here:

Jake, you ROCK!!!


Annie King said...

Hi Suzanne, I read the whole exchange on the Flash Fiction blog. I understand completely how you and the editing team would be upset by this guy. I'd be shaking in shock and anger if I got a return e-mail like that. But, I don't understand featuring this guy, and giving him so much attention. I went to his blog. I read his story, which I didn't like at all, and I feel like I wasted my time, and gave him attention he doesn't deserve. I think it would have been more appropriate to discuss his poor, mean spirited, uneducated response, in general, rather than leading every Flash Fiction reader to his marginal work. Plus, it makes everyone who submits to Flash Fiction Online take pause, wondering if their correspondence, positive or negative, sent in private, will suddenly be made public on the site. Points to ponder (Maybe you and Jake jumped on this too quickly, without the benefit of hindsight, and you're letting a whacko get the best of you). Also, I think your e-mail to him was informative, encouraging, and kind, and he had no justification for responding the way he did.

Annie King said...

On another note, I love the look of your blog! I don't know if this is a template, or you've customized, but the borders are beautiful, the colors and images are soothing, and the site functions wonderfully.

Jake Freivald said...

Yeah, I definitely don't rock. I spent more time than I needed on someone who offended one of my editors, when the proper response might be to let it roll off of my back.

To that extent, Annie's points are well-taken.

By the same token, people should know that there's no real expectation of privacy with email, and especially not rude, condescending, ungrateful email. And I certainly wasn't as bad to him as I could have been -- when he asked me to, I took down his last name.

So I'm not sure whether I responded in the best possible way, but I'm also not sure that it wasn't a reasonable way. Hopefully it teaches him a lesson without being too off-putting (I hate that word) to everyone else.

Thanks for your comments, Annie.

Vincent said...

Thanks, Annie.

If you're interested, my templates come from a site called "The Cutest Blog on the Block." They have loads of free and purchaseable templates.

But back to the discussion at hand, I had similar wonderings as you, for a minute. Until I read his response again, then read his obviously untruthful remarks in further correspondences, THEN found out this wasn't his first offense.

And I owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to Jake for NOT letting this slide off his back. Why? Because he stood up for me. Because, like a MAN who LIVES the code of chivalry, he came to the rescue of a damsel (OK, not technically a damsel now for coming up on 20 years) in distress.

Too few people are willing to do that anymore, and I think society is NOT the better for it. We're so afraid to offend we don't even stand up for ourselves, or anyone else, when offense occurs! Either that or we stand up for people who don't really deserve it.

It's a backwards world out there. And I'm heartened to know there are at least a few people who are still fighting forward, and I am HONORED to be working for one of them.

Thank you and God bless you, Jake.

I hate 'off-putting' too.

Annie King said...

Hi Suzanne and Jake,

Well, now I've read the guy's apology e-mails and your response. Maybe he's not a whacko, and he really was writing in character (His entire blog is written as if he were the character), in which case he used poor judgment and showed a lack of sensitivity. And yes, I think his intention was to wound, which is never forgiveable.

However, I still think Flash Fiction Online should pull the whole thing, or remove his name and the link to his blog, not to spare the guy, necessarily, though I personally think that would be the nice thing to do (his lesson learned), but the reputation of the publication.

I'm being quite honest, when I say, I don't think Flash Fiction Online should stoop to the level the guy exhibited in his response. I don't think it shows readers what Flash Fiction Online is all about: promoting good writing and treating people decently.

If you decide to pull it, I suggest not saying a thing; just let it slip away quietly, and move on to something more positive. After all, it was only yesterday.

Suzanne, it is nice to have someone stand up for you. So, Jake, bravo for being a gentleman.

And thanks, Suzanne, for the information about your blog!

Jake Freivald said...

He signed it with his real name instead of his character's name. He wrote about the characters in the story rather than as a character in a story. This wasn't the first time he was rude. I don't buy his excuses for a moment.

Nonetheless, my conscience tugged when I thought about his daughters, and I pulled off his last name to avoid having it come up in search engine results.

I'm not worried about this guy anymore, but I am interested in the question in general. I don't want to waste time; I don't want to tarnish our reputation; I don't want to overexploit the power of publicity, such as it is (the post has probably only been read 20 times or so, most of which happened after I pulled his last name off of it). Perhaps a "go away and never submit to us again" would be a more reasonable response.

Then again, outing a jerk in a public forum can be useful. Read this entry about Dean Grondo, for example, as well as its follow-up. (Warning: profanity.) Being able to find these entries helped us decide how to manage his responses to our rejections which, while milder than those shown here, weren't quite reasonable.

So I'm thinking about it. Doesn't mean I'll come to a conclusion...

Vincent said...

I believe it is perfectly acceptable to let people learn by their mistakes.

Luke made a big mistake that he only made worse by lying.

It wasn't an accident. It was, though a mistake, intentional. What happened as a result was justice and justifiable. If I were to be idiotic enough to do something similar, I should expect nothing less.

But that's the thing, isn't it? People who DO these sorts of things have been taught by some fault of their upbringing or character to believe that doing these sorts of things is OK. That's a societal problem that runs rampant in this internet age, and the only way to stop it is to DO something about it.

If we are very fortunate we have stopped not only Luke from making this same mistake in the future, hopefully we've stopped others by making Luke an example. Swift, sure justice is and always has been the most effective deterrent.

Anonymous said...

The only possible flaw I saw was explicitly calling him an idiot. I think, if Jake had not been so upset he might have used behaving immaturely or acting foolish. Other than that, I feel Jake showed class.

I've seen the flipside of this. Recently, there's been major upheaval over and editor's rejection. It's a matter of choosing your words carefully--which Jake usually does.

Psst, Jake, repellant or offensive might adequately replace the affronting word.


Jake Freivald said...

I took it down. If there's a question of whether what I did is right, I'd rather just not do it.