Anyone who’s ever tried to sell their writing should visit this educational thread at Making Light. Teresa, who has had to wade through many a slush pile, provides a “rough breakdown of manuscript characteristics” (from “1. Author is functionally illiterate” to “14. Buy this book”); wry agreement, humor, outrage, and all manner of psychodrama ensue (including at least one disemvowelled comment). Warning: Teresa’s initial post is very long, and there are (at this moment) 362 comments, so allow yourself some time.

Feòrag, way way down the thread, quotes this typically magisterial warning from Dr. Johnson:

Perhaps no class of the human species requires more to be cautioned against this anticipation of happiness, than those that aspire to the name of authors. A man of lively fancy no sooner finds a hint moving in his mind, than he makes momentaneous excursions to the press, and to the world, and, with a little encouragement from flattery, pushes forward into future ages, and prognosticates the honours to be paid him, when envy is extinct, and faction forgotten, and those, whom partiality now suffers to obscure him, shall have given way to the triflers of as short duration as themselves.


  1. Isn’t that a lovely quote? So accurate! And how often do you run into “momentaneous” under any circumstances?
    Dr. Johnson’s sentences are put together with hinges.

  2. This is a great post. Thanks to both of you for sharing.

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