FORCED INTEREST: Baby’s First Query Letter


Okay, here’s the deal non-existent readers. I’ve been (pathetically) trying to make a series of articles actually interesting to read for the past… oh God, I don’t actually want to remember. There was originally one article that was so terrible that I erased it and it was never to be mentioned it again (save for right now). What now remains is actually a third article, that was not quite as boring as the first two.

Since the subject matter of all the blog posts itself were boring no matter how I look at it, and I’m going to make it interesting, forcefully. How, you may ask, am I going to make something boring as hell, interesting? Well by forcefully inserting passages from something that is interesting. Since I don’t believe in plagiarizing, but I do in stealing, you will clearly know that I did not write these passages by bolding the hell out of them. And like a good English Major, I will leave the source at the bottom. Although in all honesty if you can’t figure out where it’s from, you may need to go to the doctor: you may have the stupid.

So now, my dear (non-existent) readers, something interesting…..

My soon-to-be brother-in-law approached me the other day in-between commercials for LOST and asked me when I was going to post another story on my blog. At first I looked at him with shock and then great curiosity I asked,

“Are you telling me people are reading that thing?”

That night, in the mid-watch, when the old man – as his wont at intervals – stepped forth from the scuttle in which he leaned, and went to his pivot-hole, he suddenly thrust out his face fiercely, snuffing up the sea air as a sagacious ship’s dog will, in drawing nigh to some barbarous isle. He declared that a whale must be near.

In a great leap of unprofessionalism, I will explain what happened. (Professionally, I should just shut up and post something). I actually prepared two posts, and as usual, I slid the laptop over to my fiancee to give them a quick look over. My reasoning for having her be my editor is that since she’s already agreed to marry me, so she has no reason to sugar coat anything I put in front of her. I waited patiently as she would normally fix common typos and grammatical errors that plague all rough drafts. This time, she didn’t fix anything. She only read it, turned to me and said,

“This is the most boring thing you have written. Ever.”

I grabbed the laptop and looked it over again.

“Man the mast-heads! Call all hands!”

Thundering with the butts of three clubbed handspikes on the forecastle deck, Daggoo roused the sleepers with such judgment claps that they seemed to exhale from the scuttle, so instantaneously did they appear with their clothes in their hands.

“What d’ye see?” cried Ahab, flattening his face to the sky.

“Nothing, nothing, Sir!” was the sound hailing down in reply.

“T’gallant sails! – stunsails! alow and aloft, and on both sides!”

She was right; it was terrible. The article was about how I got the substitute job. However, there was nothing exciting about it; just a bunch of waiting.

That’s it.

So to sum it up (if you must know): I waited, something happened, I waited more, and waited more, then got the job. Well, I now do have a file with the FBI. I guess that’s kinda exciting in theory but in all actually I just got my prints and paid $70. Woot! (Am I still young enough to say that?)

So why didn’t I bother to write anything else since then? Well I’d been working on trying to get published in an online magazine, aka freelancing. Fired by the cry which seemed simultaneously taken up by the three look-outs, the men on deck rushed to the rigging to behold the famous whale they had so long been pursuing. Ahab had now gained his final perch, some feet above the other look-outs, Tashtego standing just beneath him on the cap of the top-gallant mast, so that the Indian’s head was almost on a level with Ahab’s heel. From this height the whale was now seen some mile or so ahead, at every roll of the sea revealing his high sparkling hump, and regularly jetting his silent spout into the air. To the credulous mariners it seemed the same silent spout they had so long ago beheld in the moonlit Atlantic and Indian Oceans. One of the most important things in freelancing is the Query Letter. The Query Letter is basically a letter to the editor that tells them what you want to do, how you’re going to do it, if it fits in with what they’re doing, your style of writing, if your approach to writing is professional, and whether you’d make a good candidate for their next blood sacrifice. In other words, if your letter sucks, they won’t bother looking at your article. Now the whole point of the letter is to save time for both the editors and the freelancers. They don’t have to wade through crappy articles and freelancers don’t have to write anything until they are given the green light.

I believe I spent half a day staring at the computer screen trying to think of the first sentence. What was I going to say? How was I going to say it? Was it interesting enough? Was my topic interesting enough? Am I going to get to the editor on a bad day? I practically had a panic attack over the first sentence. Then after rocking back and forth for hours, my screen was still blank. I blamed it on the hard day and went to bed, because procrastination solves everything! …later.

And now, while both elastic gunwales were springing in and out, as the whale dallied with the doomed craft in this devilish way; and from his body being submerged beneath the boat, he could not be darted at from the bows, for the bows were almost inside of him, as it were; and while the other boats involuntarily paused, as before a quick crisis impossible to withstand, then it was that monomaniac Ahab, furious with this tantalizing vicinity of his foe, which placed him all alive and helpless in the very jaws he hated; frenzied with all this, he seized the long bone with his naked hands, and wildly strove to wrench it from its gripe.

The second day I actually wrote something. It wasn’t very good, but I wrote something. I did my best to ignore everything and just write. It’s actually how I get any writing done the first time. (It’s easy when you ignore quality)! Then I got stuck on the credentials part of the letter. This is the part of the letter where you tell how awesome you are… without directly telling them how awesome you are. Bragging = ass. And nobody likes an ass.

I did finish it though. Somehow. Then, the best part happened. After three days of struggling with this whole letter thing, I changed my topic and I erased the whole thing and started over.

“I turn my body from the sun. What ho, Tashtego! Let me hear thy hammer. Oh! ye three unsurrendered spires of mine; thou uncracked keel; and only god-bullied hull; thou firm deck, and haughty helm, and Pole-pointed prow, – death-glorious ship! must ye then perish, and without me? Am I cut off from the last fond pride of meanest shipwrecked captains? Oh, lonely death on lonely life! Oh, now I feel my topmost greatness lies in my topmost grief. Ho, ho! from all your furthest bounds, pour ye now in, ye bold billows of my whole foregone life, and top this one piled comber of my death! Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!”

I was done in about 30 minutes, not including pestering my fiancee for her look through. After the thumbs up of approval, I sent it out to the editors of the magazine. I was surprised when I got a response a few hours later (even though I had started to check my email every 15 minutes). The email was from one of the editors who said they had received my email and would be looking over topics for that issue in a month or so. I would hear from them at that time.

Thinking about it, it’s kinda like any other other “first time.” You get all excited and worked up over it and you’re stressing and stressing and stressing and when you’ve finally done it, it turns out to not really be that big of a deal. Sometimes, it’s even a let down; at least to the rest of the world anyway. However, unlike everyone else’s first time, I’m hoping to get the magazine pregnant (with my article).

So now I start waiting, again.

A sky-hawk that tauntingly had followed the main-truck downwards from its natural home among the stars, pecking at the flag, and incommoding Tashtego there; this bird now chanced to intercept its broad fluttering wing between the hammer and the wood; and simultaneously feeling that etherial thrill, the submerged savage beneath, in his death-gasp, kept his hammer frozen there; and so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and helmeted herself with it.

“Moby Dick.” Princeton University – Welcome. Web. 01 Mar. 2010. <http://www.princeton.edu/~batke/moby/&gt;.

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