It’s almost Halloween and I know what you must be thinking. She’s had a robot, a vampire , a zombie, but NO flippin’ monsterly peeps on the blog this month! Wud up with that? Well, thankfully the wonderful and kind Tiffany Strelitz Haber couldn’t let that happen. The author of The Monster Who Lost His Mean, (a book just written up in The New York Times Book Review), brings us a story that I am pretty sure most of us can identify with…
Embarrassment bites the big one. I’m actually embarrassed to even TELL this marginally absurd story of massive overreaction (by more than just one participant). But alas…here goes….
This particular Banana Peel Moment took place just as I started to pursue a career in children’s books. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and I was stalking, er…checking out websites of publishing companies that seemed to have an affinity for rhyme. I quickly discovered an editor I will now refer to as “Dragon of Death”. Just Kidding. I’ll call him, “Richard”.
Anyway, so there was an email address for “Richard” and I used it to send some samples of my writing and inquire about his submission policy. (It was a small press that primarily published humorous poetry collections). At the time I was writing tons of that stuff.
A couple of days later, I received an email back saying that not only did he love my work, but he had gone onto my website and learned more about me. I DIED. This was clearly my big chance to get my foot in the door of children’s book publishing and then pry it open and run through! We go back and forth via email a couple times. He’s super duper friendly, asking me all sorts of questions and being really complimentary and it was awesome. He asks if I’ve written anything longer. I say yes. He asks to see it. I say YES, and send it immediately.
And then I wait. And I wait for what feels like a completely impossible amount of time. Like my whole world has been sucked inside some sort of sci fi black hole of frozen silence hell and all I can hear in my head is TICK. TOCK. TICK. TOCK. I mean, we had been emailing back and forth for like 30 minutes. Why would he suddenly go completely silent the moment I sent my story?? Something was wrong. He must not have gotten it. He’s just sitting there waiting for it, right? And I’m sitting there waiting for him while he’s waiting for me and…oh lord, this can’t be good. I need to send it again.
And so I did. I sent it again with an adorable note saying I wasn’t sure that it had gone through, and just in case, this was my second attempt and if he could just let me know that he had in fact received it, that would be super duper fab. And then came the silence. Again with the silence! Couldn’t he just say “thanks, got it!” and call it a day? He must not have gotten it. It must be something with the attachment. It wasn’t going through and I was going mad and everything that had been going so well was now unraveling like a thrift store sweater. But instead of walking away from the computer like a normal, sane, woman (maybe the man got up to pee! Or do something that takes a bit longer than pee!)….I felt I needed to email again. And so I did. Just the one last time because I was absolutely certain that the attachment hadn’t gone through and that one last time couldn’t hurt and then I would close my computer and call it a day. And then he wrote back.
I don’t remember the subject line. I do remember feeling a little sick inside when I read it though.
I opened the email.
PLEASE STOP EMAILING ME INCESSANTLY!! I RECEIVED YOUR STORY, AND QUITE FRANKLY EVERYTIME I OPEN AN EMAIL FROM YOU MY ENTIRE COMPUTER SHUTS DOWN AND RESTARTS. THIS IS DESTROYING MY DAY. PLEASE STOP WRITING TO ME!! THANKS.
Yes…it’s harsh. It’s completely unprofessional, and it is perhaps- borderline mentally insane. And maybe so am I. But it crushed me. I truly believed, in that moment, that I demolished any chance I would ever have of getting anywhere in this business. He would tell everyone to avoid me like the plague. I was the email of death and I would be black listed across all 50 states and probably Canada as well.
And now I look back….and it’s hilarious. Yup! Like scream laugh, pee in your pants, fall on the floor funny! (I’ve now referenced “pee” three times in this story and that’s weird) But maybe that’s the thing about Banana Peels. You slip and you fall and it hurts. But when you look back, it’s all just pretty freaking ridiculous. And also…maybe…you learn something.