Monday, February 20, 2006

rudimentary, they say...

so, as i mentioned before, i submitted an essay which is supposed to be included in an anthology coming out in june. well, lately i've been reconsidering my submission. i mean, it's not that i don't want to be published, i mean, who doesn't? but a few things have come up in the past few days that make me hesitate.

for one, my editor just did some extremely last minute edits... without my approval.

so i need some advice, but first a little background:

i latched on to this project towards the tail end of the submission deadline; i.e. i had a month to write and submit a first draft. a month, when you're a full time employee of corporate america, is not really a lot of time when you consider how little free time is left after a 9-5 day. i didn't have the luxury of cutting myself off from the rest of the world to retreat to some writer's camp in the middle of a forest in montana to clear my thoughts and focus on writing, like many seasoned writers do. needless to say, it was kind of hard to meet the deadline, but i did it anyway, and i was sort of happy with my piece. not bad for an accountant, ya know? my editor worked with me and made a lot of helpful suggestions and constructive criticism, and at the very beginning of december, my essay was considered final. or so i thought.

just last week, i got an email from my editor saying that my essay was too long, and that parts of my arguments were redundant in relation to other essays within the anthology. therefore, she was getting pressure from the publishers to cut it down some and they made some last minute changes and hoped that i was okay with it. well, i wasn't. they practically chopped my essay in half.

not only did they chop my essay in half, but they cut out parts that i felt were crucial to my cause. the essay deals, in part, with islam and my editor felt that some parts of my writing in relation to that were "rudimentary". and you know what? she's probably right. but here's my thing: rudimentary or not, they're my feelings, my understandings and my interpretations of how i grew up as a muslim. maybe she couldn't relate, maybe the publishers couldn't relate; but i know many people who can. many... many... many! it's an experience that i share with several bengali muslims and several muslims in general. but the fact that i laid it out in a very simple and non threatening way, didn't seem to jive with the editors. and frankly, i'm pissed. they cut out enormous parts of my essay that dealt with my feelings about islam under the guise of "redundancy" and then later decided to be honest with me and say that my arguments were just too rudimentary. well you know what? fuck that shit in the ear i say. if my shit is rudimentary then don't fucking print it.

i mean, really, here's the thing: it's not like my editor woke up one day last week and decided my islam issues were rudimentary. she had to have felt that way about it back in december when she accepted my final draft. why didn't she say anything then? why wait until now, in february, when she's on a tight deadline and leaves me with a fucking ultimatum that i have to accept the changes or withdraw my essay?! on top of that, i'm out of the country with a twelve hour time difference, and can't call her, so we're emailing back and forth arguing over the timing of all this, and she basically tells me that i need to give her a final word by such and such time (which already passed by the time i read the email) as to whether or not i want my essay in.

what kind of shit is that?

so my question to you readers, especially those of you who've had experience with being published (shalini? anyone?): is this common? am i overreacting? i mean, i went ahead and ok'd the submission, but i'm still really torn about it. and if i'm still torn, a week later, then maybe it wasn't the right decision for me to okay it, right? i don't know... i mean... a part of me is ready to write to my editor and say fuck it, pull my shit, i'll find someone else to publish it in it's entirety. i'm not saying that my shit is all that and a bag of chips, i'm just saying i don't agree with their edits. i didn't have a problem with my editor's initial edits, and we seemed to have established a pleasant relationship. but now, i'm feeling a little bit duped. i'm feeling like they waited till the last minute because they knew i'd be pissed but with the timing and her deadlines i'd have to make a quick decision and i did. not only that, i'm a little bit annoyed with her for waiting until now to tell me my shit is rudimentary. frankly, and i told her this, rudimentary isn't always a bad thing. not everyone is a scholar and an intellectual. some of us are just regular fucking people with simple fucking ideas who want to be able to say shit in simple ways that other simple people can understand. i'm not a muslim scholar, nor am i some graduate from an ivy league institution with twelve million letters behind my name. i'm a fucking accountant for chrissake! how many accountants do YOU know who have submitted an essay for an anthology on women and islam?

it's after 2am here in dhaka, and i was laying in bed trying to fall asleep, but i couldn't because i kept thinking about parts of my essay that were no longer included in the final edit. it made me kind of sad. i mean, i think i should've been able to at least ok the edits. i shouldn't have to deal with a fucking ultimatum at the last minute when my editor has only a few hours before she has to turn everything into the publisher for good. that just doesn't seem like the right way to do this.

and if i'm losing sleep over it, well then that's a problem, no?

so... what do you think? any advice? suggestions? comments? please... help me out here.