Sunday, July 3, 2011

When To Draw The Line

In my early years I once queried an editor offering to be sort of a proof reader as I had noticed several errors in the magazine. The editor wrote me back pointing out several errors in my letter. Whoops! I can laugh at it now, but I sure felt bad and very embarrassed at the time.
Recently I put my foot in my mouth again with another editor when I threw in a comment that, only after rereading it a couple of weeks later, did I realize I came across as possibly questioning the editor's judgement on something in the publication, which is not what I had intended. I apologized, but the editor has ignored me. I had previously written four articles for the person and had had a good relationship.
On the flip side a new editor I queried was very encouraging until I called the person. Then the editor gave me all sorts of excuses for not using me. When I said you're a closed market then the editor denied it and encouraged me to query again even though it was VERY obviously I'd never be used. On top of this the editor talked down to me. I called the person on this in an email and challenged them to give me an assignment. The person sort of apologized and then underminded it by offering me the assignment on spec.
These examples bring up the tough question of where to draw the line on mistakes made by writers and editors with each other - when to forgive and forget and when to walk or run. I realized that for some things it depends on the personalities of the parties involved. It also depends, rightly or wrongly, on such things as the work load and stress levels of the offended party.
That aside the following are what I consider to be generally good guidelines for either forgive and forget or walk or run:
1. The nature of the offense. It's one thing for a person to put their foot in their mouth and quite another for a person to name call or make threats. For the former forgive and forget is probably in order and for the latter run like heck.
2. The previous history, if any, between the parties. With a generally good relationship I'd say forgive and forget, while with a rocky one I'd say walk or run.
3. Finally is their an underlying medical or psychological problem of some sort. For example did the person suffer a death in the family or did they have an accident? In a case such as this I'd tend to forgive and forget.