Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Coffee Does NOT Deliver A Check

Here's how this freelance writer thing works:

1 - I write.

2 - I send what I wrote to an editor I think might appreciate it.

3 - An average of about five times out of six, the editor doesn't.

4 - I become extremely depressed, then repeat step 2 until I sell the damn thing.

If, after a reasonable number of attempts at selling it result in continued depression, I move on to step 5. I pull the piece from circulation and to hell with it. However, if I still believe it has value, I will sometimes publish it here.

The following is one of those pieces. It was returned to me just moments ago accompanied by a rejection slip. I still think it's good, but I'm not going to send it to any more editors. I hope you enjoy it.

It is called...

My Coffee Delivers a Check

Tragedy has befallen me, but I'm going to attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Here's what just happened: I was making coffee and I somehow managed to pull the entire works – glass carafe, boiling hot water, coffee grounds, filter, metal tea kettle, etc. - onto both myself and the kitchen floor. There is wet coffee and broken glass everywhere, spreading out from the point of impact like some sort of insane caffeinated Jackson Pollack canvas. I have burns on my arm and my tuchus.

(Yes, even Irishmen have tuchusses and mine was burned because my reflexes were good enough to make me turn my back while the coffee pot was in midair, thus avoiding burns on a different Yiddish word I have no doubt my editor won't allow.)

As I write, most of the carnage remains in place. I will let the coffee and water and glass just sit on the linoleum, thank you, until it has cooled and I no longer risk further heat-related injury. In the meantime, I have no coffee to drink. That is a far greater tragedy to this writer than burns and broken glass.

(Here comes the part in our story wherein the sow's ear may miraculously undergo a transformation.)

In the split-second while I was scrambling (mostly) out of the way of flying grounds, hot water and shards of glass, these were the thoughts I had.

  • “Wow! I still have pretty good reflexes!”
  • “Ouch! Not good enough!”
  • “It's a glass coffee pot, so why haven't I heard it br... *CRASH* Ah, that's better.”
  • “Ow! My tuchus!”
  • “Geez, I'm glad that wasn't some other part of my anatomy!”
  • “@$#*! It can sit there all night as far as I'm concerned!”
  • “There's coffee all over my arm, too? I better get out of these clothes and survey the damage.”
  • “I hope I don't get a blister. A blister on my tuchus would be a pain in the ass.”
  • “Hah! That's pretty good!”
  • “Shoot... Now I don't have any coffee...”
  • “Hmmmmm. I wonder if I can get 500 words out of this?”

And that, dear reader, is how a writer's mind works. I am sitting here naked and scalded, typing, and it is now up to my editor to let me know if I have a silk purse. If you're reading this, yes, I do. I shall now go clean up the mess and apply some ointment. When the check arrives, I will thank God for weirdly-delivered favors.


Obviously, the part about "if you're reading this" was meant for a newspaper audience. This has remained a sow's ear. Well, I thank God, anyway. With all due respect to my various editors - and with absolute thanks for the checks they have delivered - you are my first love.

Soon, with more better stuff. I'm going to go have a mug of coffee and hope history doesn't repeat.


Lil said...

like some sort of insane caffeinated Jackson Pollack canvas.

That right there, my friend is a f**king brilliant line. I thank you for it.

Tabor said...

It was clean and funny and fast enough to read while drinking the morning coffee. Sorry it did not sell. But clearly you need to keep on trucking.

Jackie said...

"With all due respect to my various editors - and with absolute thanks for the checks they have delivered - you are my first love."
Yeah. Yeah. Where have I heard that before? I don't know, but I'm sure it rings a bell.
Regardless (aren't you glad I didn't say "irregardless"... I cringe every time I hear someone say that!) Back to my comment. Regardless, I'm glad that you published it for us, 'cause it did make me smile (in a painful way, of course. Not a smirky smile. 'Cause you did burn your tush. And that's no laughing matter.)
OK. It is.
I'm smirky smiling.

joeh said...

If your reflexes were a bit slower and the coffee hit that other Yiddish word the editor may have bought it.

Still I thought is was 500 words of good reading.

Good piece, wrong editor.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

Now I know how to spell tuchus.
Rest assured I will use it sparingly.

OldAFSarge said...

Dang. I liked it. What's wrong with those editors anyway?

And like Skip, I had no idea how to spell tuchus. And you are the second person I have heard (seen?) use that word. The other was Don Rickles. You are in fine company there.

Heh heh heh. Have a cookie.

Buck said...

Ah, well. The editor's loss was our gain. I liked it.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Well, what the heck, this Okie likes it.

Jenny Woolf said...

Great piece! but you shouldn't have mentioned money in it. That always makes editors shy away! :)

messymimi said...

It should have sold, but editors never listen to me anyway.

Michelle H. said...

Ah well, At least the coffee had a different adventure instead of the usual coffee mug/down your gullet/sploshing through various internal organs/and coming out of your tuchus. Interesting how coffee can still be a pain in the tuchus any way you have it.

Karen said...

I hate it when that happens. What do editors know, anyway.

The Broad said...

What does that editor (and I use the term loosely know)? Good stuff, Sully. Great read for people to start the day -- even if they drink tea!

Daryl said...

the editor(s) clearly (to my perceptive abilities) dont know fresh brewed coffee from instant cause they drink $5 starbuck lattes ...

LuluRN said...

Good story...must have been read by an intern who doesn't know what a tuchus is!

Hilary said...

Bummer! In more ways than one. ;)

I did have the same thought that Jenny Woolf did. They might feel it dissect the process some.

But I enjoyed it.. and if you're selling one out of every six pieces, you're doing amazingly well.

Heal quickly.

Tim King said...

Well, I like it just fine. I hope you aren't serious about getting depressed by the "rejections." (Sometime, I'll have to tell you what I really think about "rejections.") Maybe you could convince your better half to handle the responses and resubmissions for you, then just give you a summary report at the end of the month. (Or maybe she has a real life, like my better half.)

In any case, thanks for posting it here. Gave me a good laugh. -TimK

Barbara Shallue said...

I've had my fair share of rejection slips, and I know what an effort it is to sigh and keep writing, keep submitting, and hope for another check. You just never know what's going to sell and what isn't. There's not a rhyme or reason to it. I'm glad you stick with it!