I have had the delight of editing, teaching, discovering, and publishing over 1,000 new and established writers across a 25-year career. In the last decade or so, I have had the honor — but rarely the horror! — of working with a wide variety of writers and their quirky personalities. I admit upfront am the wackiest and quirkiest of them all — so I condemn my own foibles before even peeking at anyone else’s need for petting.
Yes, I said “petting” and while that may seem like an odd term to apply to a writer, I am finding more and more authors I have worked with in the past are now getting back in touch to tell me about their newest idea for an article.
They go on to layout their plans to write articles again and they want to know if I am interested in publishing their work.
I am always interested in publishing new work from my previously published authors, and so I always respond with a “yes, we’re interested” and then — after getting petted — they disappear and never submit anything.
Sometimes they pop up again a month or two later — or even years later — with a new idea or an apologetic update on the same article they pitched before, and their want is always the same: “Are you interested?”
“Yes,” is always my reply.
Then they disappear again.
Rinse. Repeat. Over and over and… that’s a problem with working with virtual people in an ethereal universe. Folks come and go and stay and watch and never leave and you have no idea about their whereabouts. In the comatose world, we’re all in the same stuffy room, and it’s harder to get teased and petted without looking cruel or silly. In the online world, teasing and petting are the email norm.
I have come to terms with this editorial teasing because I know many writers are fragile and desperately symbiotic and sometimes they get lost, or hurt, or they wonder if they still have that spark that once allowed them to enlighten a dark world with words.
These former authors really aren’t interested in writing anything.
They just want to confirm they are still special, that they still have that gift, and that they still matter in an ever-changing world.
I suppose a better business approach from my end to help fulfill my never ending need for new material would be to say — “Let me read your work first, and I’ll let you know if we want it or not” — but I know their inquiry has nothing to do with writing and everything to do with self worth, and to treat them like a first time author would be to dismiss their previous work when all they really want to know now is if they are still loved or not.
If they published with me in the past, I know they still have that magic in the future, and that’s why I will always say “yes,” and that’s why I will always willingly fall for the author tease and will I always pet — a virtual hug is too intimate — all those who need some human warmth in a stillborn and frightening world.