When “Published” comes at it’s cost

November 4th, 2021 — that day was supposed to be a small triumph for me. A little win. Months ago i endeavoured to try my hand at getting small works published on online magazines. Nothing major or too big of a stretch, you know mostly to get my work out there in a fashion and to feel i was working towards something. Right now i dont feel up to writing a second novel — the ideas were springing back and forth to the point where i realised now is simply not the time for another full fledged novel. Im sure the first novel itself will be quite horrendous. But Nevermind that now.
 A few years ago i wrote an article, it was praised by many and a fella asked me if he could publish it in his magazine. It was a legitimate magazine because i’d seen it in W.H Smiths before.
  Long story short — he took my article, change a few things here n’ there and finishes his cruel flourish by putting another mans name on it. I found that out when i showed up early one morning to buy my copy of the magazine at Barnes and Noble. It was October i believe. It was New England so we were bundle up and happy escape into the warmth of the store. We both rushed to the magazine racks to the left of the entrance. Jack disappeared to search for a new issue of True West.
I searched slowly for the magazine in question and there it was amongst all the nautical history and sports mags. 
 I pulled a copy out from the back of the stack and paused for a moment to look at the cover.
“This is the start of something for me. I could really…” I flipped to the contents and my name wasn’t there. No biggy. Maybe its not a headlining story. I open to the page in question and there was my article; or rather what WAS my article. It was not my name at the bottom. For a while i was unsure what the hell was going on. There were my words, my flow and structure but there were differences. When the realisation came to me I was devastated. Embarrassed. Livid. Most of all i felt a terrible, terrible fool. I decided i wouldn’t put myself in that situation again, until September 2021; where i did exactly that. 

The end of August saw me creating three pitches for H___ magazine, one of which they decided to go ahead with – The Mind of the Melancholy. Me, being the goat that i am, pretended to struggle with the piece for over a month but i wrote the piece in about 30 minutes when i eventually parked my arse down to work on it. The deadline was September 28th and it would be published in early November. Once the piece was sent in the did forewarn me that they would check it to see if it needed any edits: grammar, structure, flow and so forth. I agreed to the terms believing it would only be minimal changes if any at all. I am by no means an expert and grammatically i’m a fucking nightmare, glad to be so —  though i like to think of myself as more of a lyrical lunatic but here we are. Nevertheless — i’d checked the magazine thoroughly to make sure what i wrote coincided with work they already published. So didn’t expect much, if anything,  would need changing
 Fast forward to November 4th. LeDoux woke me up around 8:45am — usually he nugdes me awake at 8am but i guess he knew i needed the extra 45minutes. Bless him. I pull myself out of bed, take Dude out for a walk, feed him and the cat; before sitting myself down to check whether my article was published. 

It was.


I perused the latest posts for 5 minutes looking for it. I scrolled back to the beginning, the only essay it could be had the wrong title… it was similar but not exact. They’d changed it to “A Melancholic Mind: A hard look at my mental health,” colour me fucking fuming.  Not a good start. I’d had a bad feeling since the day i sent away my work but i figured it was just my horrible attitude flaring up like a scorned wasp, but alas it was not. My gut should have been trusted. I read the first paragraph and my heart crumpled into a scrunched up piece of paper. They’d changed everything. It wasn’t my story. They’d added words there and here and everywhere, assumed the person i was writing about was somebody they weren’t and the artful narrative – for which i suppose you know me – was decimated. Gutted. Absolutely gutted.  In their defence — they did warn me and i should have asked to read it before they posted it. Nevertheless, pouring yourself into a piece and then getting it back in tatters is probably one of the worst feelings in the world; leaves you alone with your shame, insecurities and did i mention the fucking shame? 

  I called my mother, it was the late afternoon in Denmark, her voice was happy but it wasn’t the same after i called. I’m good at that.  I have that precise effect on everybody, hence why i try not to contact people, but i needed validation before i did something whack. I called my Jack, it was early in the morning for us still and he’s always happy when i call — because i never call and i never answer my phone, i simply watch it ring out; feeling like a god. I tried not to lose it but it lasted 45 seconds before he shouted “What?! Damn, i’m sorry sweetheart.” Both tried to be supportive. You know, maybe it wasn’t as bad as it seemed? Perhaps they just took out the offensive things? Changing Pissing to wetting — but keeping Piss in a later paragraph. I think the fuck not. And not to mention — they kept the word fuck in there. So they logic behind the edits was ludicrous, but how dear they both were to do whatever they could to stop me flinging myself out over the balcony that day. I felt i needed to justify myself to them why it wasn’t the same but i didn’t. If it was enough to cause me such grief — then something was wrong. Thank you to my dear support system. 

  Jack came home later that day with an offering of an English chocolate bar, an Aero from Krogers, i swear the man is pure gold. Looking at it now i can admit i might have taken it a little harder than necessary but i am very particular about my writing, i will not have it edited to the point where i can’t recognise myself in the story. I will not have my name on something i am not happy with, and i shouldn’t have to. If you’re reading this — then no matter what your medium is, neither should you. I  disagreed with every one of their changes, which i told them. I politely asked them to pull it. If i’d read their rendition before it went live i would have said “Good day sir, not this time. Not my work.” 

 Thankfully when i emailed them and told them i wanted it removed immediately, that i didn’t think this publication was for me after all, they were very gracious; taking it down immediately and ending our communications with best wishes and no hard feelings. 

 

Being published, at least for me, isn’t worth it if it comes at such a high cost. I wont lie and say i wasn’t worried that perhaps i was over reacting, maybe i was a shit writer and really needed that editing. Maybe i should give up the writing and re-apply at Walmart. 
 I gave up writing for 1day, 9 hrs 37 mins 3 secs after that. Shrieking internally that never shall i hold another pen to paper again.  
 Friday afternoon i sat at my laptop and dared to search for a place for my essay and found none. There was a magazine that took last resort pieces with no place to go but thats only for short stories and poetry, this was a narrative non-fiction personal essay.  I figured i might just scrap it and move on. 

Only my pride and ill placed excitement would be harmed. 

 

Here's the good news...


I’d stumbled onto another platform a few weeks ago that opened other possiblities. I thought might be perfect for my piece but i was nervous. Ready give up after two legit tries because i already felt like an outsider before i’d even started.
  I’ve always been shot back when i’ve loaded my work anywhere online because i make up words, i fuck up the system. I make sense in a desperately sad kind of way and write about things no one wants to admit. Im offensive and i love big words. Callous should be thrown in here somewhere. Even in the society of writing i feel unwelcome and alone. There’s nowhere for a mediocre word wrangler like myself to sit and drink with anyone else. I love writing but damn i hate it. Fuck off with that community spirit — that shit ain’t for everybody. 
 I loaded my piece. This platform also stated that they would make edits if its offensive, they’d tell you to fix mistakes or make rewrites. So i was fully prepared to be told my work could go fuck itself. But. I. LOADED. THE. SON. OF. A .BITCH. At around 11.36pm Friday night.  
 This evening i found that it had been published. In all its fucking raw glory and splendour. They gave me no notes, changes, rewrites — no edits at all. My heart beamed. I’m so glad i believed it was good enough as it was and decided to pull it from the previous publisher. For a moment back there i felt guilty for thinking my work deserved to be heard as it really stood, but look how well it paid off for me. I found the perfect place for it. On a psyche ward with other provocative pieces. If you want to read it — stay turned for my next post! I will be dropping the essay in question Sunday November 7th 2021!

Believe in your work. If something doesn't feel right -- it's probably horse shit and you to need walk away. Recognition isn't worth a damn if you conform to the masses.

[ I don’t bare any bad feelings against the magazine, they have plenty of contributors that i’m sure dont mind being edited to that extent — but for me, the case of losing my voice and individuality in that process, well i’d rather not write at all]

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