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How I Envision Editors Responding to My Stories Versus Reality

Call me Ralphie. Not because I am a secret owner in the Ralph’s grocery store chain. And not because I am transitioning. Changing my sheets is hard enough.

My name change reflects my connection with Ralphie in A Christmas Story when he wrote his school theme. As a new writer, I often experience the disconnect between my perspective of my writing and reality.

A Masterpiece! Maybe?

I think I am creating a masterpiece. I find a strong, comical premise. I create complex sentences that “show” and don’t “tell.” My subtext is subtly portrayed and hilarious — at least to me and my various personalities in my head.

Once complete, I stare at my masterpiece and sigh with satisfaction. Just as Ralphie hopes his theme will help him secure his desired Red Ryder BB gun. I hope my writing will secure my desire for publication and bring joy and laughter to my readers. And perhaps a few cents along the way would be good, too.

Let the Reading Begin

I submit my story. I envision the overworked editor scrolling through her emails, despondent with titles lacking inspiration and creativity until her eyes alight on my eye-grabbing title.

I imagine the editor stopping on my story. Initially, she worries it is just like the other “F” work she has received that week. After one sentence, she gasps. After three sentences, she clutches her heart and exclaims, “What a masterpiece! The humorous sentences! The hilarious subtext! It is sheer poetry. Amy deserves to be published.”

“Every story ever written gets an “F” compared to this A+++ work of art.”

I envision the editor printing my story and sharing it with her coworkers. They smile, gasp, and throw their computers in the trash because they will never be able to put words and sentences together like I did. Everyone will ask for a copy and pass it around to people on the streets. The editor will run my story on their website. When another story takes its place, my fans will crash the server demanding to read more of my stories.

Much Rejoicing in the Land

My name will be written on the board with cheering from everyone in the office. I envision the staff flying to my house and hoisting me upon their shoulders. I will blow kisses to the adoring crowds as they march me around the streets.

The editor will say she has been waiting her whole life to read something like my story. I will smile, blow kisses, and say, “Thanks for reading.” She hands me a copy of the Pulitzer Prize nomination she submitted for my story.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

What a Party-Pooper

As my therapist told me, visualization is a powerful tool. My therapist also says there are medications to keep me anchored in reality, but I tell her she is a big party-pooper. I visualize an email arriving from the editor.

I imagine the editor saying, “Oh, Amy, can you send us more stories? Today? Tomorrow? Every day until the end of time? What an inspiration and joy to read your words! I am not worthy.”

I’m sure that will happen. Or something like that.

All week I check my email for a response from the editor, but I am not worried, because why WOULDN’T they publish it? The premise is funny and there are at least two good jokes. Lots of jokes in general but at least two winners. The subtext is clear, I think. My cat LOVED it when I read it to her. At least I followed the submission guidelines.

Finally, my waiting ends. I see the email in my Inbox. My finger hovers over the email. I stop and remember I have champagne chilling. I grab a glass and the bottle and sit down. Click.

Reality Bites

The editor begins: “Thanks for thinking of us, but we are going to pass. Did you perhaps shoot your eye out before you wrote this? There are some holes in your story.”

I gently close my laptop. Take a deep breath. I look at the champagne and realize it is 10:00 a.m. Fuck it. Champagne is great for celebrating and for wallowing.

I grab the bottle and twist the top. It does not budge. I put the bottle between my legs and use my thumbs to push the cork off. The cork gives and shoots into the refrigerator, bounces back, and hits me in the eye. I shot my eye out!

I hold my hand over my eye while I attempt to pour the champagne. I sip and think about my story. Perhaps my story does have some issues. After the second glass, I question my whole desire to be a writer and ponder whether I should throw my laptop in the trash. After the third glass, my confidence returns, and I feel my story needs a few tweaks, and then it will be hilarious, entertaining, and lauded by the whole writing community. It will change my life. Next time.

Call me Ralphie.

This was originally published on MuddyUm