I spent the entire morning in William’s class where I was privileged to witness, and hardly for the first time, my son in the above posture of hopelessness. Yes, he has descended into the Slough of Despond. To be clear, he descended there about 72 hours after he was born and has enjoyed flailing about ever since. He actually brightens the place up–the other inhabitants like him a lot, and will be sorry when he leaves. Which, pray God, will be sometime in the next calendar year. If he could just pull out for a few years before he sinks into the Morass of Puberty, which comes right before the Quagmire of So-called Adulthood, which precedes the Bog of I Can’t Believe You Sold Me This Crock of Merde, which ushers in the Swamp of What the H*ll Did I Do With My Life, I would be so grateful. Isn’t that all any mother could ask?
Of course I paid for the privilege of this rejection, providing as I did both the self-addressed envelope and the stamp, like a submissive pupil handing the birch rod to the head mistress.
My attention was now called off by Miss Smith desiring me to hold a skein of thread: while she was winding it, she talked to me from time to time, asking whether I had ever been at school before, whether I could mark, stitch, knit, &c.; till she dismissed me, I could not pursue my observations on Miss Scatcherd’s movements. When I returned to my seat, that lady was just delivering an order of which I did not catch the import; but Burns immediately left the class, and going into the small inner room where the books were kept, returned in half a minute, carrying in her hand a bundle of twigs tied together at one end. This ominous tool she presented to Miss Scatcherd with a respectful curtesy; then she quietly, and without being told, unloosed her pinafore, and the teacher instantly and sharply inflicted on her neck a dozen strokes with the bunch of twigs. Not a tear rose to Burns’ eye; and, while I paused from my sewing, because my fingers quivered at this spectacle with a sentiment of unavailing and impotent anger, not a feature of her pensive face altered its ordinary expression.
“Hardened girl!” exclaimed Miss Scatcherd; “nothing can correct you of your slatternly habits: carry the rod away.”
Yes, like that.
April 24, 2012VIA EMAILDear Emily Butler:
Thank you for your material for TUDOR SPRING, which I found to be an engaging read.
Yet, I’m afraid that I don’t feel sufficiently enthused to feel as if I’m the right agent to represent this project on your behalf.
Publishing is a subjective business and another agent might very well feel differently. I wish you all the best with your work.
[name redacted to protect the guilty]
All signs indicate that this agent is superb, and we enjoy being rejected by the finest. Nevertheless, we draw your attention to the second paragraph, which needs a re-write pretty desperately.