You guys. This is terrifying.
Pam van Hylckama, a lit agent in San Francisco, was attacked a few days ago while sitting in her car. A guy came up and knocked one of her side mirrors off, and when she rolled down her window to I assume say “What the f…,” he grabbed her by the head and started smashing her face into her steering wheel. Her dog was in the car with her and bit the guy, who then ran off.
Long story short, this might not be a random attempted carjacking like Pam first thought. The police wondered if the attacker could be a writer who had been sending her crazy, death threat-y emails after she rejected his submission. She gave them that guy’s address (it was included with his submission), and when they went to question him, lo and behold the dude had a dog’s bite mark on his arm. He’s now in police custody.
(Read about it here and here and here.)
What. The. F***.
I can’t even… I just can’t…
Look, I work in a newsroom and have handled my fair share of creepy letters from people in prison and phone calls from people in the loony bin. The guy who tried to mug me for my phone a couple of years ago did so because he thought I was talking about him to someone he knew. The point being, I am totally aware that there are nut jobs out there. But this is like “Law & Order”-level crazy.
Here are the reasons why a submission could be rejected:
- It sucks.
- The agent doesn’t represent that type of work.
- The agent doesn’t feel he/she is the best person to represent the work.
- The writer’s query didn’t make the work sound appealing.
- The work needs more work.
- It sucks.
(There are probably many more, but I am not an agent and don’t pretend to know them all.)
Reasons 1, 4-6 are the writer’s responsibility. Reasons 2-3 are out of the writer’s hands completely, but still totally common and justifiable reasons. NONE of those reasons (nor anything, really) justifies stalking and/or physically harming someone!
My BFF Dianna put it best when she heard the story: “You know, I hear things like that and realize that I’m doing OK.” It’s SO true. Just this weekend I thought I was losing it because all day Saturday I was overcome with random, unprompted crying fits: ran errands, came home, cried, watched some TV, cried, did Pilates, cried, made dinner, cried, edited two more chapters of my book, cried, went to bed.
In the grand scheme, even with random crying, I’m doing OK. And agents, I swear to Thor, I will accept your rejections with grace, dignity and perhaps a non-random (but still non-crazy) cry.