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rekirts
09-14-2005, 10:22 PM
I got a rejection a couple of weeks ago for a short story I had submitted to a magazine. It was actually a very nice rejection--not a form letter--which complimented my writing but said my story was "a tad too depressing" for their magazine. I was quite satisified with that--BUT then she went on to question the accuracy of a scene which involved the main character taking a kind of medication. She said that the medication wouldn't have the effects I described. This really irritated the heck out of me because the scene was a toned down version of my own personal experience. Also I know other people who have had similar reactions AND I am very knowledgeable about these particular kinds of medications. So...I was just going to let it go, but it was driving my crazy. I can't stand it when people say I'm wrong and I'm NOT. I finally replied with a short, polite email (all correspondence was through email) in which I explained that the scene was based on real life experience. In the email I also said I respected her decision and I commented on how much I enjoyed reading the magazine.

I wonder how an editor would take that? I wonder if I made myself persona non grata at that magazine because I had the nerve to defend the accuracy of my information.

Jamesaritchie
09-15-2005, 12:10 AM
I got a rejection a couple of weeks ago for a short story I had submitted to a magazine. It was actually a very nice rejection--not a form letter--which complimented my writing but said my story was "a tad too depressing" for their magazine. I was quite satisified with that--BUT then she went on to question the accuracy of a scene which involved the main character taking a kind of medication. She said that the medication wouldn't have the effects I described. This really irritated the heck out of me because the scene was a toned down version of my own personal experience. Also I know other people who have had similar reactions AND I am very knowledgeable about these particular kinds of medications. So...I was just going to let it go, but it was driving my crazy. I can't stand it when people say I'm wrong and I'm NOT. I finally replied with a short, polite email (all correspondence was through email) in which I explained that the scene was based on real life experience. In the email I also said I respected her decision and I commented on how much I enjoyed reading the magazine.

I wonder how an editor would take that? I wonder if I made myself persona non grata at that magazine because I had the nerve to defend the accuracy of my information.

You're wrong. Sorry, couldn't resist. Now, who cares whether or not something is based on real life experience? Certainly not an editor, and certainly not readers.

And not to nitpick, but are you positive the medication caused whatever you're talking about? Just because you take a medication, and then are affected in some strange way, does not mean the medication was the cause. Unless your doctor says the medication was the direct cause, it may not have been. And even if it was, the editor's doctor/expert may say the exact opposite of what your doctor says. Personal experience is not always right, and, in fact, is very often dead wrong.

Either way, you will get nowhere in life by replying correcting editors who think you're wrong.

rekirts
09-15-2005, 01:42 AM
Nobody cares whether it was personal experience or not, but that's not the point. The point is that my information WAS correct. It was also based on plenty of research. I am very knowledgeable about that sort of medication in particular. The effects of the medication were an fairly important part of the story and I don't ever just make stuff up out of whole cloth.
The side effects are listed as possible side effects and are not necessarily uncommon. A simple google search proves that. And yes, the doctor did say they were side effects to that medication. I don't know where the editor got her information, but she was way out to lunch. It would be pretty obvious to anyone who actually knows anything about it that I have done my research and she hasn't.

Maybe it doesn't bother you when people pass on misinformation, but it bothers me. Especially when it concerns medication and can have life threatening consequences.

veinglory
09-15-2005, 01:59 AM
I understand the impulse but tend to just let these things go.

rekirts
09-15-2005, 02:59 AM
The wiser course, no doubt, and one I would normally take. This happened to be an issue I felt very strongly about so I didn't feel comfortable just letting it go.

Jamesaritchie
09-15-2005, 06:43 PM
The wiser course, no doubt, and one I would normally take. This happened to be an issue I felt very strongly about so I didn't feel comfortable just letting it go.


Nobody cares whether it was personal experience or not, but that's not the point. The point is that my information WAS correct. It was also based on plenty of research. I am very knowledgeable about that sort of medication in particular. The effects of the medication were an fairly important part of the story and I don't ever just make stuff up out of whole cloth.
The side effects are listed as possible side effects and are not necessarily uncommon. A simple google search proves that. And yes, the doctor did say they were side effects to that medication. I don't know where the editor got her information, but she was way out to lunch. It would be pretty obvious to anyone who actually knows anything about it that I have done my research and she hasn't.

Maybe it doesn't bother you when people pass on misinformation, but it bothers me. Especially when it concerns medication and can have life threatening consequences.

Again, so what? All medications can have life threatening consequences. Even aspirin kills several hundred people per year. People get things wrong all the time. People pass along bad information all the time. You fight this by passing along good information, not by telling those who disagree with you that you're right and they're wrong.

You're a writer. This means your job is to write. You job is not to correct editors, no matter how right you think you are, or how wrong you think they are.

And I can tell you this for a fact. If you are not a doctor, then you can argue about the plusses and minuses of a medication until you're blue in the face, and you'll get nowhere. If you want to convince anyone of anything, find a reputable, well-known doctor and quote him.

In an article, you quote doctors. In telling someone they're wrong, you also quote a doctor. A good one with a great reputation. In fiction, you find an editor who agrees with you. But writing and complaining to an editor is a loser's game.

Without knowing what medication you mean, I can't comment, but it may be the editor wasn't talking about the side effect, but about the character actions concerning the side effetc. Who knows? Who cares?

But I'd be real careful about Google searchs. Google also says that some artificial sweeteners cause everything from warts to cancer, and that's complete nonsense.

Either way, if you spend your time trying to correct every editor who disagrees with you, all that's going to happen is you'll have many editors who simply won't read your e-mails or your stories.

Let it go and look for another editor.

stormie
09-15-2005, 06:56 PM
The good thing is that you didn't get a form rejection. And she complimented your writing. As writers, when an editor rejects a story and says something that you feel--know--is inaccurate, take it with a grain of salt and move on. Hard to do, but if you want to stay on good terms with that editor, it might have been best to let it go.

rekirts
09-15-2005, 07:08 PM
"Hard to do, but if you want to stay on good terms with that editor, it might have been best to let it go."


Yes, I did consider that. I pretty much figured I wouldn't be submitting anything to that magazine again. Even though I was extremely polite and didn't actually say "I'm right and you are wrong."

veinglory
09-15-2005, 08:23 PM
I dare say the editor barely remembers it now given how much reading they do. Being polite is the main thing.

My policy is that if I am feeling at all annoyed or upset by an email I can't reply to it until the next day--that makes sure that if I still do reply it is very polite ;)

maestrowork
09-15-2005, 11:27 PM
Let it go, knowing in your heart that you're right. Telling someone "he's wrong" doesn't accomplish anything, except perhaps to make yourself feel a little better. there are better ways. Like going to a shrink or sticking a knife into someone....'s watermelon. yeah.

veinglory
09-15-2005, 11:31 PM
I've had to restrain myself a few times. Like being 'corrected' about the behaviour of an animal (I have fairly recent Phd on the behaviour of that animal). Even when the editor or critic is factually wrong it may be important to look at whether the average reader will find the idea implausbile--truth so often being stranger than fiction.

trumancoyote
09-15-2005, 11:54 PM
That's why you shouldn't fictionalize personal experiences until you've distanced yourself from them.

J. Y. Moore
09-17-2005, 07:17 PM
"Hard to do, but if you want to stay on good terms with that editor, it might have been best to let it go."


Yes, I did consider that. I pretty much figured I wouldn't be submitting anything to that magazine again. Even though I was extremely polite and didn't actually say "I'm right and you are wrong."
Try chocolate instead - much tastier and enough can cover the bitter aftertaste of rejection - no matter what the reason. At least you received a complimentl - see, more chocolate.

Greenwolf103
10-05-2005, 01:12 AM
This thread reminds me of something the writer Robert McKee said, about how fiction isn't supposed to be about the truth. Or some such.

It's possible the editor was being cautious, because having a side effect of a medication in such a spotlight like that may influence readers the wrong way should any one of them end up being prescribed it or they know someone who is. Tricky business, that.

paprikapink
10-05-2005, 01:35 AM
I don't think even doctors consider doctors the final authority on medications anymore.

Everyone who's had a doctor say "since the internet, my patients come in and tell me what they need prescribed" raise your hand (my hand is up). (Then again, I see a doctor in an affluent, well-educated area -- they bus me in.)

In your original post, rekirts, you say she "questioned the accuracy" of your scene. If she actually asked a question, maybe she didn't mind getting an answer. I don't think it's a certainty that you've done any damage to your potential writer/editor relationship. Maybe. Maybe not. If you submit there again one day, let us know how it goes!

Jamesaritchie
10-05-2005, 06:30 AM
I'd say it's really about believability. Real life doesn't have to be believable, but fiction does. And in fiction, if the editor says something isn't believable, it isn't believable.

So you move on to another editor who says it is believable.

Responding negatively makes no sense.

Robin Bayne
10-05-2005, 08:10 PM
.

Responding negatively makes no sense.

This is true. All that will do is make sure any future queries are rejected.
I thank editors, even when they are cold or just plain wrong.http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif

Once I got a rej letter from a small press that was riddled with typos, grammarical errors and factual errors about my submission. It was signed by a junior editor, and at the time I was shocked and angry that someone so "illiterate" had the authority to judge my work. I sent a thank you to the head of publishing (I knew who that was from previous online conversations) and let it go.

Years later, I was able to inform the publisher about the letter and actually sent her a copy--long after that editor was gone. But even if I hadn't had that chance, I would have not replied negatively to the junior editor.