Since the story I was going to put up here is somehow in the wrong format (and I’m too lazy to fight my toddler to get to my bedroom where my writing computer is), I’ll just have to tell another story from my college days.
Back in the day of, I don’t know, 2011-2014, somewhere in there, I was on the editorial board for the college literature and art journal. That sounds fancy-pantsy because continuing educational institutions are all about sounding fancy. It’s how they get money. But really it was just the board that said yay or nay to whatever poetry or short stories we got in the journal email from the students. We’re talking mostly 18-25-year-olds and all the angst that comes with coming out of Mom and Dad’s house and realizing bills are a thing and, holy crap, we’re legally allowed to screw up our own lives now. It was a position any English major actually concerned about finding a job in the future with their degree would apply for and which you are able to get if you have a good enough GPA and can sound smart enough. (<–This run on sentence definitely isn’t working in my favor.)
It wasn’t all that fun working through the slush pile and rating it. It’s a great workout for your ‘cringe’ muscle. But after rating them all, we’d all come together to share what we think made the cut, and that part was more fun because we’d have to argue for it. There were a few other editors that made it a running theme of what they liked. They’d often latch to the same kinds of things and say the same praises. What’s variety in the face of 1000+ submissions?
One was a man who, honestly, I can’t remember his real name because he went by his pen name….for his erotic novels. Self-published erotic novels.
Okay, before I get into the story of this man, let’s call him Jessie, this is not a slam on self-published authors. But there is a stigmatism that since it is easier to self-publish, without anyone to stop you from putting up bologna, self-published stuff…well the stigma is there. I’m acknowledging the elephant in the room. Also, erotic novels and those who write them, do I have to explain that?
Ahem, anyway, Jessie was one of that handful of middle-aged students who decided to take a second crack at education. He told me that publishers wouldn’t even look at him for an editorial position unless he had a bachelor’s degree. He had thinning, strawberry-blond hair and watery blue eyes that seemed to be trying to escape his skull. He was very proud of his work, held confidence in his swagger, and believed in his inner Shakespeare like a wannabe actor believes in their chance on Broadway. While most would quietly push their smutty works onto another tab or under another name entirely, he would only respond to the pen name of his erotic novels and that was ALL he wrote.
Which meant if there was any entry we got that so much as HINTED at sex, he’d lawd it as the most poignant of art.
None of us tried to stop him or insulted him, that would be just rude. As a board of editors, we felt everyone was entitled to their opinion, even if that opinion was that erotic literature was sent by God.
Then the year came when our Cheif Editor was going to graduate. Jessie saw his chance. What better way to get his toe into the door of a publishing house than to have ‘Chief Editor’ of anything on his resume?
Despite not having the requirement of being on the editorial board for at least one year and being Junior or Senior in your respective graduation track, he was so pushy and insistent that the professor over our journal (gosh, what’s the name for that? Advisor?) gave in and said that if he could convince the rest of us AND the Chief Editor himself, she’d allow it.
And to Jessie, what better way to convince us of that than with a powerpoint of all his erotic novels played to heavy rock music?
I would have been able to keep a polite, straight face if it had just been the powerpoint. Maybe with the music. But it was impossible with his passionate narration filled with mostly bragging and demands for us to prove we had a better portfolio of published works than him. As well as a better resume–which was jumping in the hole for him, because I, along with several others on the board, actually had the qualifications, experience, AND better grades. I was actually asked if I would be interested in being Chief Editor by our advisor and the Chief Editor before all this, but since I was pregnant I had to turn them down. I knew the next semester would be filled with adjusting to being a first-time mom. I was a firm believer in knowing my limits. (The professor winced when I gave her the final turn down, because it meant she couldn’t tell Jessie they already had the next candidate).
So, I guess, it may have been my fault, in the end, that we all had to endure the presentation designed to kill all semblance of friendly professionalism. It was the second time in all my life that I can remember smashing my face into my desk to stifle my laughter. I didn’t want to offend him. He was deadly serious, as he always was when it came to, uh, porn and his own capabilities of making said porn. He expected nothing but our serious consideration, and we gave it, to the best of our abilities.
Did I mention we were a Utah school with somewhat conservative community values?
Yeah, he didn’t get the job. But he made a fond memory for me.
…*snort* That rock music.