Saturday, December 26, 2009

Planning the Days

Or daze, as the case may be. In any case, I was happy to receive my copy of A Working Writer's Daily Planner for 2010 from the good people at Small Beer Press. It's a deal at $13.95, a handsome spiral-bound notebook full of handsome photos, deadlines for various contests, prompts for writers, and so on. I had merely contributed a few choice excerpts from Rotten Reviews (Pushcart Press, 1986; a reminder of how wrong we editors can be, as if anyone reading this post needs reminding) and Small Beer comped me a planner. The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses is full of kind folks who help each other out--and fast. Here is where I should insert a few personal examples of blowing it (there are several) and subsequent speedy rescue, but I'd rather list some rotten reviews. Think of these when you get your next rejection letter.
  • Catch-22: "Heller wallows in his own laughter and finally drowns in it. What remains is a debris of sour jokes, stage anger, dirty words, synthetic looniness, and the sort of antic behavior the children fall into when they know they are losing our attention." ~The New Yorker
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: "A gross trifling with every fine feeling ... Mr. Clemens has no reliable sense of propriety." ~The Springfield Republican
  • Leaves of Grass: "Whitman is as unacquainted with art as a hog is with mathematics." ~The London Critic
  • To the Lighthouse: "Her work is poetry; it must be judged as poetry, and all the weaknesses of poetry are inherent in it." ~New York Evening Post
  • on Emily Dickinson: "An eccentric, dreamy, half-educated recluse in an out-of-the-way New England village--or anywhere else--cannot with impunity set at defiance the laws of gravitation and grammar .... Oblivion lingers in the immediate neighborhood." ~Atlantic Monthly

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