Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Sesquipedalian

“Verbosity is the decimation of prose by talentless uncouth morons undeserving of consideration in the literary field.”

The intern, of the intern, of the intern to the secretary of an editor of a major New York publisher.

This single, rather verbose, sentence was all I received in a rejection letter for a book I have been working on since the tragedy on September 11, 2001 entitled “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” The author of this missive offered the perfunctory Closing Line “Sincerely” as well as the appropriate spacing to allow for a signature, and a title line. The autograph was a grand affair emboldened with large loops and scrawl between these loops. The title line simply stated that the letter had been written by the “Editorial” department.

This was the rejection that brought me into double digits. Eleven times I have had this book rejected and which might just be rejected eleven more times before success. Rejection is not the point but simply the avenue to publication with a mainstream publishing house. The point was being called an “talentless uncouth moron.” I admit to being an author of what a close friend has called “almost absurdist literature.” No real issue there. Those who know me can attest to the fact that I have a few screws loose, but I am in no way to be considered a butter knife in a draw full of 300 years old Katanas.

That being said, and my honor properly defended, I would like to talk about what sat me down at the keyboard this dreary cold day. I have been reading and relishing a book by a famous astrophysicist. It is written in a manner that would permit the everyday Joe to understand some of the more complex ideas and notions of the universe. “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” by Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the book and it is a thoroughly enjoyable and informative read. I began this book by setting myself a little task; to see how far I could go until I had to look up a words definition. I made it to page 135 out of a possible 207 pages. I am somewhat proud of that especially given that is a most loquacious of words…sesquipedalian coming from the Latin sesquipedalis meaning, literally, a foot and a half long. Take that you intern, of the intern, of the intern to the secretary of an editor of a major New York publisher!

I openly admit to a love of words. The more obscure the better. Being a fan of authors such as Richard Brautigan (my favorite poet), Tom Robbins, Albert Camu, Spider Robinson (yes I have been drunk on Route 25A, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York), Stephen King, Robert Heinlein, and Daniel Quinn emboldens my obscurity and my Roman Catholic upbringing often sets the muse. In 1957 I was handed a comic book about a guy with superhero abilities who came from another planet as a baby and I was hooked. I remember wondering while sitting on the floor being told about the pictures and wondering what those squiggles insides those thought balloons were. Even before I knew what a thought balloon was.

As I grew older and began reading and ultimately writing, I became enamored with the placements of these things called words. I liked laughing, and crying depending on what the story was telling. I remember when I was ten years writing about a fat kid who did not like being fat, and I also liked writing a collection of short stories at 48 years old about how it is not okay to kill.

Thinking back to the intern, of the intern, of the intern to the secretary of an editor of a major New York publisher I decided to find out who this quite couth raconteur might be. Having a computer and a decent college education I tracked down my adversary. Turns out it was some guy working in a cubicle who answered submissions with the direction to find as much fault as he could. It is absolutely impossible for an editor at a major publishing company to read everything submitted. Not even the future recipient of some big writing award who got his start reading Superman comics. 

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