The Pleasure of Pain of Being Chronically Misunderstood

Do you ever feel as though you’re gravely misunderstood by the majority? Feel frustrated by the complete inability of the everyday person to get even the smallest grasp on what you’re on about what you’re about? Of course you do: these feelings are common to most people at some time, ad is one of the reasons people who share not only opinions but levels of intellect gravitate toward one another in the main. It’s how society works.

As a writer, I experience these feelings of disconnection quite acutely. I tend to submit work to zines and publishers in waves, and as a consequence tend to receive rejections in waves, which punctuate the steady trickle. It doesn’t bother me per se: after all, it’s all material for my book of rejections that I will one day undoubtedly publish.

Some of the rejections I receive are quite nice: well-written and considered. One that landed with me a few weeks back suggested that the paragraphs were disproportionately long for the story. Ok… it also criticised the fact that ‘the story has to rely far too much on the reflections of the narrator.’ Given that that was the point of the piece, I found this a rather odd criticism, but at least it showed that they’d read it. On the other hand, the ‘not what we’re looking for’ and ‘sorry not for us’ rejections aren’t simply impersonal and generic, but strike me as being pointless and lazy. I know these people are busy, but really… again, the problem I find is that too few publishers – even of free e-zines – are willing to take risks, and many are excessively prescriptive in what they are ‘looking for.’

No, this isn’t a sour-grapes rant about the volume of rejections I get in a competitive market. The point is that I write the kind of stuff I like to read, largely because too few publishers are putting out the kind of stuff I like to read, and I’m quite sure my tastes aren’t so niche that I’m a market unto myself. Moreover, I suspect that a lot of the things I do intentionally are often misconstrued, and perceived as ‘errors’ or shortcomings rather than virtues.

Returning to my point about gravitating toward the like-minded, it’s fair to say valuable lessons can be learned from spending time out of one’s selected circle, however (even if it’s only to be reminded why you gravitate toward the people you do). As such, it’s worth taking the risk of being misunderstood from time to time. By posting my Michael Jackson conspiracy piece in a place where it would be read by those unfamiliar with my work, I’ve been able to infiltrate a new audience. Have I gained a new readership? Doubtful, but I’ve succeeded in winding a few people up and derived much amusement from the fact that they clearly can’t tell that I’m taking the piss.

So to pre-empt any criticisms that may be levelled at my short film ‘Into the Earth’ I should perhaps state here and now that yes, the sound quality is supposed to be a little shaky, degraded-sounding, semi-mechanised and in places lacking clarity. It’s intended to create some distance between myself and the piece, and, more importantly, to echo the themes of decay and degradation in the story itself (which, incidentally, has been rejected by the half-dozen places I’ve tried it so far, although no-one’s been more specific than that it’s not for them). And yes, the footage is supposed to be repetitious: that’s the whole point. It wasn’t that I only had a couple of minutes of footage and was feeling lazy.



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