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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-11-27 07:13
Subject: [process] Doing the difficult thing
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:bleh
Music:no more rain
Tags:personal, process, writing
Today I did something very difficult, which in fact I have never done before. I withdrew a story which had been accepted. (I have withdrawn stories from consideration under a few, limited circumstances.)

This is a story I like very much, at a market I like very much, with an editor I like and respect very much. But their vision of the story and mine have become increasingly incompatible, and I feel strongly about this.

Withdrawing a story is troublesome on several levels. First, one of my primary rules in life is not to be a pain in the ass. This is a very pain in the ass thing to do. Second, I really don't want to get up this editor's nose. (This is a specific case of the previous issue, I suppose.) Third, it just feels unprofessional.

Thing is, it feels more unprofessional to fight about the story, and it feels most unprofessional of all to compromise on story issues about which I hold great passion.

Sometimes you don't get to be the good guy.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Gary Emenitove
User: garyomaha
Date: 2007-11-27 17:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
hir

Question from the not-always-the-most-progressive-part-of-the-country: Was that a typo or is that a newly accepted version of him/her? If it's intentional, I like it. (That's the first time I've seen it.)
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Kerry aka Trouble: Purple pansy
User: controuble
Date: 2007-11-27 18:02 (UTC)
Subject: hir
Keyword:Purple pansy
I have also seen it used in fiction where the character is gender-neutral or a third gender that humans do not have.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-11-27 18:05 (UTC)
Subject: Re: hir
I have no difficulty whatsoever using "they" as a third person, gender indeterminate, singular pronoun.
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Kerry aka Trouble
User: controuble
Date: 2007-11-27 18:08 (UTC)
Subject: Re: hir
When I saw it, it was the term used by the alien race as their third person singular pronoun of choice.
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Bibbit: crawl
User: bridget_coila
Date: 2007-11-29 16:26 (UTC)
Subject: Re: hir
Keyword:crawl
Also a fan of "they" as 3rd person... everyone uses it in speech anyway, so linguistically it is correct, even if official grammar hasn't caught up yet.

B
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russ
User: goulo
Date: 2007-11-28 07:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"But I think it's clear and for purposes of informal writing, very useful."

Indeed useful for writing (specifically)... "hir" has always seemed a little too geek/fan-culture for me to work as a "real" word, as it has the problem of geekily working better in print than in pronunciation (where people tend to either say it the same as "her", or confusingly like "here").

Not that I have any great solutions to offer to repair the problem of grammatical sexism. (But the various forms of "they" work pretty well for me. :)
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Richard Parks
User: ogre_san
Date: 2007-11-27 15:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's rough. I've never had to withdraw a story under those circumstances, but I've come very close. I'd like to think I'd do the same thing if I couldn't work out an acceptable compromise. When your name goes on a story you have to know that the story is truly yours. Otherwise it feels like a lie.
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Lawrence M. Schoen
User: klingonguy
Date: 2007-11-27 16:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
God, I hate when this happens. Remind me to tell you some time about the editor who bought a story, paid for it, held it past the the reversion date without publishing it, and then wanted to publish a version that he'd edited into something I couldn't put my name on. Oh wait, I just did. The good news is that, as horrendous as the changes were, the editor and I were able to work it out (he backed off tremendously) and we went to press with something that looked very much like the original story.

You're caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. Fighting woulc likely come off wrong, but you should *never* have to compromise on a story, and I would hope any editor would be sensitive to that.

Is there no middle ground, or is the editor that out of touch with your vision of the story?
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User: ellameena
Date: 2007-11-27 16:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, it sounds like a provisional acceptance, since there were revisions going on. In that case, I see nothing unprofessional at all about politely backing out. I would not take offense at this at all if I were your editor, especially if you send him/her something new fairly soon.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-11-27 18:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have in fact offered another piece...we shall see. There is no bad will, just disagreement.
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Gary Emenitove
User: garyomaha
Date: 2007-11-27 17:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
>>one of my primary rules in life is not to be a pain in the ass<<

I wish someone would have taught me that rule. As M. will tell you, I need major training in that area. Congratulations for living the rule in a world where it's altogether very difficult to do so.
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houseboatonstyx
User: houseboatonstyx
Date: 2007-11-27 20:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Could you give a hint as to what kind of magazine this was? Pro, semi-pro?

I thought short sf was such a buyer's market, that if a story wasn't just right, the editor would just reject it, rather than tinker.

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jeffsoesbe: bald man coffee mug on head
User: jeffsoesbe
Date: 2007-11-27 20:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:bald man coffee mug on head
I had a similar mindframe as houseboatonstyx, but I'd also bet that it depends on an editor's fondness for the story (and maybe even on if said author is a newbie or a seasoned pro).

But this brings up a question: Without any specifics, was the general situation something like this?

Editor: I want story X, but I have issues (A), (B) and (C)
Author: I can see your point on (A) and (B), but I disagree on (C) and here's why (details)
Editor: Well, here's why I think (C) (details)
Author: Gee, I don't agree on (C) so we'll have to agree to disagree. I guess this one isn't gonna work. [Withdraws story]

Tough, but if handled professionally it might not be so bad...

- yeff

UPDATE: Note to self. Don't use B in angle brackets if you don't want Bold.

Edited at 2007-11-27 08:49 pm (UTC)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-11-27 21:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Mmm, roughly, yes.
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User: ex_benpayne119
Date: 2007-11-27 20:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think that, people being people, sometimes it will happen... sometimes you and the editor will have different visions of what you want the story to do and sometimes they won't be compatible.

In those instances I think it's perfectly reasonable to say "let's agree to disagree" and take the story elsewhere. I don't think it reflects badly on you, or on the editor.

As long as it's handled reasonably and respectfully I don't think it's unprofessional or bad...
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J.K.Richárd: cupojoe
User: neutronjockey
Date: 2007-11-28 07:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:cupojoe
In the non-writing world I have had to "do the right thing" many times.
"Doing the right thing" has never felt like I was "doing the right thing."
A lot of times it felt like I was violating your rule #1.

At least I have integrity.

I'm not a brilliant writer.
I'm not a great grammarian and can barely pass as a content editor.
I learn something new about "The Industry" each week.
This week we learn that Jay Lake believes in his stories.
Jay Lake is a man of intregrity.
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steve_buchheit
User: steve_buchheit
Date: 2007-11-28 14:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think this is where it helps to view writing as a business. The editor is in the business to develop the brand name of their product. You're in the business of developing your band name. If there is an intersection of those two business plans, excellent. If there is some negotiation needed, that's fine. If the one plan requires the abandonment (maybe too strong of a word) of the other's plan, then no deal should be made unless one side is willing to abandon their business plan. I would guess as long as it's handled that way, in a "thanks for the opportunity, but I really can't go that far" manner, I don't see it as a problem. Especially if the other side has seen that you are willing to compromise.

It would be a comepletely different matter if you were playing the "wounded great artist" card (ie. "How darest thou sully my work with thy crass commercial ways."), but it doesn't sound like that.

Of course, all this is said by someone who isn't published (yet).
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