Well gosh, I’m getting into the rhythm of this business of seducing literary agents. My synopsis is getting tighter. My bio hints at genius with a disarming whiff of humor. I’ve even found “comparable novels” to throw in because they like that sort of thing. “Jeeves and Wooster meet The Goldfinch on The Road,” I begin. Irresistible.
But I make mistakes. One of my favorite mistakes is sending out a query letter from my regular email address rather than the address I use just for writing-related things. I like to keep those accounts separate. Also, my regular account is “Pootie.” Some of your more easily affronted recipient mailboxes will send that sucker straight to the spam folder. If I accidentally send a query letter from Pootie and don’t hear back, I don’t know if it’s a normal non-response or if the agent never got my letter.
My perfect letter.
This wasn’t a problem on my desktop computer, Old Sludgy. If I wanted to send something from my writing account, I had to ask my computer to flip all the way over to that account. It can’t even hear Pootie from there. But on my laptop, my two email accounts are right there together, side by each. And when I send a letter, I have to check which account I’m sending it from. So I do. Usually.
But then there’s that time I’ve got a letter in draft form and I hold onto it for four days, rereading every morning and making tweaks and improvements, and making sure I’ve spelled the agent’s name right, and then I get to thinking “Is ‘tight synopsis’ a medical condition?” and accidentally hit SEND and whoosh there it goes and instantly–I mean instantly–I realize I’ve sent it from Pootie.
So I slow down. A bit. I write my letters, and I keep them in the Drafts folder, and have days to make sure they’re going to be sent from the right account, and then I open one up, change one word, and click off to send it back to Drafts, and whoosh–off it goes, because I hit the little airplane instead of the little red dot. Was it okay? Did I copy and paste from another letter and forget to replace the other agent’s name? Whatever happened to having your own secretary?
Clearly, this has gotten into the same territory as walking down a flight of stairs. I never used to think about that but things have changed. And now I square up at the top of the stairs and grab the bannister. How is it I can take such care with a letter and then screw it up at the very end? The problem, when you’re old, is that your muscles went to crap and your memory is even crappier and your muscle memory is all you’ve got left. You’re going to hit that button and it’s just a dang miracle you’re not also waiting to hear the “ding” and carriage return.
I need some kind of reminder. Some kind of hold-your-horses step. A virtual bannister to square up at. A big warning note on the wall, a post-it on the computer, a device. Something like Groucho Marx’s duck that comes down from the rafters with the secret word. If I could only hook up my email program to a lowerable duck that says HOLD ON, SPARKY, I’ll be all set.
Haha–I'd happily take on a forgetful moment or three for your writing talent… BTW, if you noticed someone skulking about here last night, that was me, reading some of your poopy topics; 'A Dump in the Bathtub' (The Case for Undersharing) was just plain AWESOME. (I'm sorry, that's the best I can do at 7am!)
Congratulations for thinking about poop at 7am! Just another little service I provide. Hm. That bathtub one was a LONG time ago.
I don't know whether "tight synopsis" is a medical condition, but I sure hope "pootie" isn't.
Nuthin' healthier than a Pootie. Shown in his usual fine fettle at the top left margin.
A tight synopsis can be fixed by any run of the mill Word Chiropractor. Which we used to need when old style word processing took actual strength of fingers and a good left cross to participate in competitively.
Ohhh, you remind me of when the IBM Selectric came out and I thought nothing would make me happier than having one of those, which, at $100, was not going to happen. Turns out there are things better than an IBM Selectric.
I loved the Selectric. Fabulous ability to backspace to erase, and you still got that clicking sound plus the hum.
I forgot all about that backspace to erase! Of course, I never got to own one myself.
I think that when people say that "older people are set in their ways", it's because we older people embrace routines. I have a "morning routine" and an "evening routine" that help a lot with meals, cleaning, and such. I do a "mise en place" whenever I cook anything, so that I don't realize at the last minute that I needed to marinate the chicken for an hour. I have certain days that I do certain chores (errands, laundry, cleaning,) This may seem boring to younger people, but I assure you that it helps immensely with living my life the way I want to (in an orderly, clean fashion, and with EXCELLENT food.) I used to be more haphazzard when I was younger, but that doesn't go very far with me now. And yes, I take extra care on steps, even though my balance seems to be fine. I certainly don't want to have to go to a hospital NOW. Jeez… I might catch something fata, FFS.
Fatal, that should say. I clicked the publish button too soon! D'OH!
Not to worry, we filled it in for you. Another service provided here at Murrmurrs Inc….
I have only one email, but still make errors. Lots of errors. They seem to be the thing that I am getting better at (as in making more of them).
Love tight synopsis as a medical condition and wish you well with those letters of seduction.
If she just murmurs that she has tight synopsis, I'm sure she'll have no trouble with seduction. It sounds hot!
You'd think, right?
You can try optimism: Maybe you'll send out a really creative/funny/insightful letter to someone you know, but accidentally send it to an agent who appreciates creative/funny/insightful and mistakes it for a request from a new writer! It could happen, right?
Yeah, no. Probably not.
Because I love doing research, I tried to find a way to add a widget to an email that has that old pop-up "are you sure?" but all I could find were widgets for Microsoft and Android. Nothing at all for Apple. So here's what I'd do if I were in your shoes, I'd put the wooee's email at the top of the body of the email and send every single letter of woo to myself first to find out which account it came from and give it one last look to make sure the email matches the addressee. If all's good, just copy the email contents to a new email and send it off to your intended.
Someone else recommended typing the addressee's name into the subject line until I'm truly ready to fire. I think that's a great idea.
I'm pretty sure most of want this to get published *almost* as much as you do. We're standing back and standing by to help in any way we can.
Thanks! Mob Stalking should be a hit.
Gee whiz. I am old enough to get the ding and carriage return and the Groucho references.
Maybe that's why Anonymous hasn't come in yet with his boomer rant…
I think technology is both a boon and a bane. I wish you the best of luck because you are a wonderful read.
Thanks! Mostly boon. I can't imagine writing without word processing software now.
I have only one email account for everything, my life is so simple. Can you open the correct email account and write the letter there then save is as a draft on that page? Then when you edit it is already at the correct address to send. Or something.
Yep! Absolutely can! And do, nine times out of ten! But…
Great piece! It reminds me of how careful I am now in the garden since I got my feet tangled in the garden hose and fell on the cement on my butt.
I do stuff like putting something where I know I'll trip on it and then thinking, nah–I'll see it. Then I walk in the same room in the dark later and BAM.
Maybe send query by snail mail too. Are they still accepting real mail?
I picture the thrashing and gnashing and ruined hair-dos and sweaty underpants that must at this very moment be twisting in the winds around the White House. Winds with coronavirus particles in them. (N.B. can infected people launch coronavirus via fart?) This in contrast to the quotidian crises we can happily share now. So happily. No, I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you!
It would be cool to have to wear a butt mask and watch it balloon out every now and then.
P.S. Four Seasons Total Landscaping
If you use gmail, you can go to the settings, toggle on "Undo Send" and set the timer to 30 seconds. Then when you send a message an "Undo Send" box will appear for 30 seconds until the message is sent. As if playing around with settings is more fun than spelling sesquipedalian words. At least you have your humor.
Wow. That would be cool. Then it would be thirty seconds before I slap my head instead of "instantly."
Yes, it took me about 20 years of emailing before I discovered the gmail option to "Undo Send". It basically hold the email for a pre-set amount of time and asks you if you want to un-send it. Its been less than a year since I found the setting, and already it has probably saved my life (or at least, helped me save some face) a dozen times.
I don't use gmail though. Hmm.