Transom Confessions - My freaky life as a publishing intern
So you would not believe the sick heinous shit I have to read every day. It's literally like I work in a morgue but instead of gross dead bodies I have to deal with the gross dead shit that people write. And by people I mean mostly totally disgusting OLD white men who can't seem to complete a paragraph without oppressing someone, typically, me, who has to be the only chick on the planet who has to read this crap because trust me, it's not getting published... So yes, I took the job because who wouldn't kill to work in publishing right out of college? Professor X says I’m gifted and he has lots of friends and most of them run small presses, mostly as hobbies I think because they're tenured and can't get fired unless they get really drunk and feel up the wrong provost. I'll admit that I flirted with the old fuck; I suspect that after teaching English and comp for 30 years to hung-over teenagers just the thought of potentially taking a shower with me must be the high point of his desperate daily routine. I wasn't born yesterday. He grins from ear to ear like an intoxicated frat boy when I sit down in his office dressed appropriately and crossing my legs to discuss career options. One needs a mentor, doesn't one? So anyway Prof X sent me the way of one of his associate prof buddies who has this whole small press thing pretty well figured out. Not to give away any trade secrets but here's how it works. Professor Y somehow lands a job at some college or other because he knows Prof X who sits on the search committee. Once embedded in the English department, Prof Y announces that he is starting a small literary press intent on publishing only the finest work by, to date, totally awesome but entirely unknown writers who hopefully are NOT horny middle-aged white guys like Professors X and Y. The plan is to put Sleepy Little College on the literary map and faster than you can say women of color, the whole Eng. department totally gets behind Prof Y's new hobby-press and are made board members of such. Are you following me?
Now, as it's a non-profit and all, with no paid positions, and as there is WAY too much nasty bad writing out there, and not just at said college, there needs be rules and reading fees. To wit; no previously published drivel, and that includes especially self/indie published drivel. And Prof Y is a very busy man-boy, so there will be a fee, otherwise, how do we know you're serious about being a writer and all?
Now if you are a gifted student of our fine institution, we will gladly wave the fee, throw your tripe along with the other courtesy submissions into a metaphorical hat, and choose one randomly at a future date. That then leaves the thousands of horrible manuscripts we receive the other 364 days of the year. But the b is getting ahead of herself. Prof Y gets into a bit of a jam with one of the other faculty members, a certain married woman of vague age who’s also doing the Dean, and ends up getting bought out of his job which amounts to two years pay and he gets to keep the small press as the college no longer has budget for it anyway. Now, suddenly he's a legit independent publisher and operating out of his basement as he rents spare bedrooms to coeds in order to get by. And guess who's actually in charge? That would be me. No way The Old Dude formerly known as professor is going to wade through the slush pile; he’s looking for a real job, and if you dream of the faux legitimacy that a small press can bestow upon your blighted writer's soul, I'm who stands between you and your sad dreams.
All of which returns your humble narrator to the source of her oppression.
So apparently back in the dark ages of typewriters and snail mail, when looking to submit literary residue, one found an out-of-date list in the back of P&W at some dank old dungeon of a public library. Now that every wacko with a Tumblr account is automatically “published” the number of pathetic wannabe writers has grown like infinity times and this poor b gets e-bombed dozens of times a day with stories like, let’s see, where to begin:
Some sick white guy trying to boink some boy, girl, dog whatever
Some frosh girlly who sad faces her subject line and writes about her dead cat
Some aging housewife ranting about how much she hates the pesky neighbors
Some other old guy’s awk political thriller based entirely on all the political thrillers he’s read with his thinly veiled self as hero
More novice stuff about sad sad sad dysfunctional families
It goes on and on. I would say that typically, I don’t even get past the first sentence, it is that bad. What’s worse, in order to get grants, we have to promise to publish the work of people who don’t exist. And let me just say about our upcoming issue devoted exclusively to writers of indeterminate gender and about that topic only; Old Dude and I will have to write the stories under pen-names in order to meet the deadline.
As SOON as I get into an MFA program I am so out of here. It’s depressing just writing about it.