My Grandfather, like most, was fond of his own peculiar sayings. A good ole Maine boy born and bred, some were classic Maine snark like “You make a better door than a window” to not at all politically correct like saying the peace sign was the sign of the American chicken. He was a decorated Colonel long retired by the time I came around, so I let it slide. But seriously, turn it upside down and what do you get? Chicken foot.
By far his best that I cherish to this day is, prior planning prevents piss poor performance. Because it is apt and it fits most fuck ups. I can safely say that every time I screw up it is because I take a bash at things before I pause and think them through. And when they blow up in my face, I sigh and tell myself in his voice…prior planning.
Perfect example of this, the first time I ever submitted a piece to be published.
It was this great sprawling unfinished epic of I will assume 10,000 words or so. You read that right, my first attempt I sent in unfinished. As in an incomplete story with no plan to add to it. FIRST MISTAKE!
Second, I sent it into a well known and respected magazine, Fantasy and Science Fiction, under the pseudonym of Artemis Pennshaw. Beyond the ridiculous name, I made no attempt to clear up or inform them that it wasn’t my true name never thinking that they would need my legal name for obvious legal reasons. Not that they couldn’t already tell Artemis Pennshaw was a fake.
Third, I sent the whole huge draft in unformated with nothing more than the title at the head of the first page. Never put my name on the header, never even wrote a cover letter, I didn’t do shit. Come to think of it, I don’t think I even bothered to edit it for clarity or grammar either.
And I still fully expected to not only be published from this but to make hundreds of dollars off the piece of shit like they owed me. Like I was Stephen King and I owned the fiction writing world.
The words dense, willfully ignorant, obtuse, and just plain stupid fit perfectly.
Some good things though to think on after such a disaster however…
Know better do better for one.
I got my first official rejection slip.
Then there is the fact that the Fantasy and Science Fiction submission page now includes a link to an acceptable submission format guide, which I like to give that credit to my big blunder. How many more ignorant boobs have been saved by my mistake?
And hell, it makes for a quasi-entertaining bedtime story as I try to wind down the day.
In the end, the moral of the story is just take it all as experience. We’re all learning, and sometimes the victory is just in doing it. Even if you are screwing it up royally.