So, last night I was at Serpent’s Tails’ drinks to wish Attica Locke good luck for the Orange for Black Water Rising (good book). It was in a lovely little indie bookshop, and I had a great chat with the owner and we talked about me doing an event there and all was welcoming and splendid.
As I was leaving I introduced myself to thank the young woman who’d been selling Attica’s books and pointing thirsty writers in the direction of the wine. She gave me a copy of her literary magazine. I’m quite often given things like this. Usually people say please let us know if you have a story or an essay or something we can use. I like to do those things, it’s a place to have ideas that are a little out of the mainstream and a new forum, so I said how lovely, maybe I could do something for you. Her reply was “well, it’s not that easy, you could submit something and I’ll see”. Thinking that behaving as if I’d just been slapped in the face might be a little excessive, I kept on with the smiling and making nice and said, well I’ll give you my email address and if you want me to do something for you, do get in touch. She grinned a little askew like I was a mad lady and replied that she had a “scrap of paper” (the very words) and I could write my email address on that. I did. And left, thinking about manners.
She has no idea who the hell Stelladuffy is (and I honestly don’t think there’s any reason she ought to) and thought I was a mad woman who had no right to be offering my literary services.
She knows exactly who Stelladuffy is and wanted to put me in my place. Wherever that might be.
She doesn’t care either way, just doesn’t like the idea of people offering to be writers.
But … what I think is that any of those reasons for behaving that way are rude. It doesn’t matter who I am, or am not, what I’ve done or not done. It takes so little to say to someone, sure, feel free to get in touch with me if you want to do something. And then ignore their email or damn them with faint praise or outright tell them you hate their work or whatever. I know it’s hard to make a living in the arts and I know publishing’s having a hard time right now and I know some people simply do think their work is better than others, their standard higher, their aims greater – all that I get. But you know, common civility, always good.
And no doubt I’ve been dismissive or not interested or plain rude in my time, so it’s always good to be reminded that gentle politeness is of value. Well reminded!
Meanwhile, v nice little Sunday Times review for Theodora.
Of course, I do think a dancer, from whatever century, would know about dehydration, and Rehan (who knows about these things) is sure the Greek sceptics were way earlier than this, so there’s nothing wrong with a little scepticism, but on the whole, very welcome.
Rude. But also strange, because any half-intelligent editor of a magazing knows contributors are gold dust and I’m surprised she didn’t realise that pretty much anyone at that kind of party was more likely than not to have the credentials that should have made her want to beg for submissions. Plus if it’s a London literary mag, she’s not keeping up if she hasn’t heard of you, strikes me. Ho hum. Hugs. x
it’s not the ‘who are you’ bit, it’s the why would you talk to anyone at all like that bit?
As you know Stella, I had a similar experience with someone only recently. And like you, I was taken aback that anyone would be so rude. It’s not question of people knowing who you are (though, frankly, they should), it’s more a question of why they think such behaviour is fitting – especially in such a context.
The older I get the more insistent on the importance of good manners I become. As far as I can see manners are about respect for other humans. As you say, whatever her motivations there was simply no need to be rude.
Ugh! This made my toes curl. I also had a ‘slapped in the face’ rudeness experience recently. It’s often a total curveball when it happens, and it’s only later on, of course, that l’esprit d’escalier comes into play.