Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Personal / Writing / Fiction / The Model / Notes /
@ K. c. 1996
The Model: The First Week: Publishing Woes
My first submission of The First Week was to Playboy. It was simple — I’d heard they paid the most. Playboy‘s response was almost as long as the story: one and two/thirds single spaced pages. The guy talked about character development: just like some other clown decades later who advised me to know my “characters” so well that I’d know what they studied in high school before I started the actual composition. Character development?!? What had the guy thought he had read? Did he want my “God” to have gone to high school? Or have acne and girl troubles? Read the Bible. There’s no character development in its greatest passages. Is there any character development in the story of Abraham and Isaac? In Job?
Peripety, yes. Change, yes. Character, no.
Anyway, I sent it on to the second-best payer, then the third … Esquire and The New Yorker were up there somewhere. Then The Atlantic and so forth. All this time, Harper’s Magazine, under the editorship of Willie Morris (whom I was soon to meet), was regarded as the finest magazine in the world. But an author would be lucky to get $25 for a first story. Nevertheless, their turn came.
There’s plenty of stories that need telling what never get told,
just because people can’t bear the listening.
The Angel of Darkness
Meantime, my classmate, Joachim Neugroeschel, recommended that I show my output to his agency: Candida Donadio. They called me up. Everyone in the place had read them all, from the receptionist to the owner. Some had read them more than once. Everyone loved them. The First Week was everyone’s favorite. But the Candida Donadio Agency “wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole”! There’s no money in short stories. Now, if I were writing a novel …
“Tell them you are writing a novel. Not Donadio; the next people you talk to,” Joachim said. A novel?!? In those days it was all I could do to manage eight pages. (Look at me now: way more than a million words before I even lauched this homepage. Thank you, word processing.) But I don’t lie. (Not unless I have to.)
Meanwhile, months were slipping by. After a year or so I’d forgotten that The First Week was even still out there. The phone rings. It’s from the editorial department at Harper’s. They’re so sorry it’s been so long, she says: and what she wants to tell me “couldn’t” be put in a letter.
They’d accepted it. They’d wanted to time their notification with a promised publishing date and just hadn’t decided where it would fit in. But. The whole department had been fired and all their editorial decisions reversed.
Willie Morris had, you see, commissioned Norman Mailer to do a take on women’s liberation. Mailer called his piece The Prisoner of Sex. Morris reserved an entire issue for it. And a very good piece it is (as I had the pleasure of telling Mailer to his face link to be added). Mailer by that time was writing in plain English (as were so many others). Harper’s got letters and calls. The sponsors got antsy. A major literary project of the century — one other organs should have emulated — got punished. Hard. And The First Week was an innocent casualty.
Perhaps though The First Week, however much a casualty, was not innocent. I wrote it hoping it would be art: literature, great literature. These decades later I believe it ranks with the best literature if not with the supreme literature. I wrote it in a culture in which art and literature are punished. So how am I or my story “innocent”? I believe I’m guilty right along with Twain, Joyce, Lawrence, Miller, Mailer, Nabokov … How guilty must the names even I have never heard of be? (Twain (I was told) has a little jou where God at Judgment refers to the greatest writer. “Shakespeare,” the mortal responds. “No, Jane Schmo, says God. “Jane Schmo? Never heard of her,” says the mortal. “Never published,” says God.)
See also: The Best & Brightest.
2005 03 14 Put up somewhere back close to 1995 this file was merely supposed to start reporting on the pk saga of not getting published. Lots of sequels were to follow regarding my other work, not only in fiction, but concerning my pen in all my activities. Until I get around to supplying details, just understand: they follow suit.
2006 03 03 Now it’s way past time for this file to get properly integrated into , updated, broken up and redistributed. But I have far too many priorities to handle: while I always need time to just be a dope and to stare out the window.
|The Model (a triptych of stories)||The First Week
The Second Week
The Third Week