Confessions of an Editor: Schadenfruede

The German phrase schadenfruede means “pleasure taken from someone else’s misfortune.” I regularly indulge in this shameful practice by reading blogs like the sadly discontinued (but perpetually archived and available) Miss Snark.

What can I say? I enjoy reading about other people dealing with the same sort of nonsense I encounter…it makes me feel good to know that other writers, editors and publishers struggle with me. Lit Agent X provides one of the best I’ve read this week. In the post “Query Oops”, she discusses the bonehead blunders she gets in her query letters. People asking her to “bare with me”, discussing “cereal killers” without a trace of irony, and my all-time fave, the guy who enclosed a “synapses” of his novel.

To be fair, I am willing to bet that the “synapses” guy was a victim of his spell checker. But I don’t care. Its grounds for round-filing, if you ask me. Then again, I am guilty of my own moronic blunders, which are usually the result of hitting “Send” far too eagerly. The three things I have learned in my stint as a writer and editor:

1. Never submit while hungover.

2. Never submit before coffee.

3. Never submit before breakfast.

If you can heed these three very related warnings, chances are you will go much farther than I. One day, you’ll be sitting in a high-rise office building in Manhattan and you’ll be round-filing MY correspondence. And laughing.

Oh–and before you ask: there isn’t a writer worth a damn who doesn’t go overboard on the food, alcohol, smokes or other bad-for-you things. It’s just the way we’re wired. I insist on the no hungover submissions rule with this in mind. You can pickle your innards as much as you like when the day’s work is done, but don’t you dare let morning -after sludge brain screw you out of a paying gig.