Venny McPulitzer subscribes to the usual raft of trade and literary magazines, and today INTERN flipped through a recent issue of Poets & Writers while eating her lunch.
INTERN has never been one for writing magazines (all those ads for MFA programs give her nightmares—always that uncanny mix of "we're distinguished and literary" and "yowza! we're so hip and rebellious Kanye West is our program director!"). Today's perusal did nothing to change her mind. INTERN was horrified to read a "profile" of an author that seemed more like an interrogation by the KGB:
P&W: HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO FIND AN AGENT?
Author: Fourteen years.
P&W: BY WHICH TACTICS DID YOU OBTAIN THIS AGENT?
Author: Umm...I pitched her at a conference.
P&W: AT WHAT DATE AND TIME DID YOU CONTACT THIS AGENT?
Author: I think it was a Thursday?
P&W: AT WHAT LOCATION DID YOU APPROACH THIS AGENT?
Author: Uh...the conference was at the Radisson hotel.
P&W: WHAT ARE THE NAMES OF YOUR ASSOCIATES?
Author: What do you mean, associates?
P&W: WHAT ARE THE NAMES! OF YOUR ASSOCIATES! WHAT ARE THEIR NAMES?
Author: (weeps with terror)
All the attention that gets paid to "cracking the code" is downright absurd, not to mention often useless (books end up getting published for a thousand different reasons and as the result of a thousand different circumstances. You can't reproduce the same situation that resulted in another writer's book getting published, unless you come armed with some kind of time/space/memory-wiping machine).
INTERN would be interested in reading a history of the narratives and industries surrounding "creative writing" throughout the past century or so. Surely Steinbeck was never subjected to the same kind of purely technical grilling writers are getting subjected to today, or Gertrude Stein pressed to reveal her Ultimate Power Secrets to getting published in a magazine article.
Maybe INTERN is hallucinating, but surely there was a time not so far in the past when writers just wrote and good work got published—right? Where did all this magazine-style mania for "secrets" and obsessively precise numbers and details come from?
INTERN is going to investigate this Encyclopedia Brown-style. Any insights appreciated.