This week, we're dealing with rejection. It's as much a part of being a writer as typing or using punctuation, but not something we talk about often.
In this edition of the Week in Writing, Jack London tells a young writer exactly what he thinks of the man’s work, and there's now a rejection generator to help you cushion the blow.
Also, the American Copy Editors Society names its headline winners, three good books on writing, and the grammar errors that startups can't afford to make.
Jack London's brutal honesty to a young writer.
In the age of paper correspondence and postage, it must have been a thrill to receive a written critique of your work from a famous author. Long before email and Twitter changed all of that, Jack London responded to a manuscript sent to him by an aspiring 20 year-old author. But maybe the 20 year-old wishes he hadn't. Letters of Note
featured London's humbling response, which in part read, “Had you made any sort of study of what is published in the magazines you would have found that your short story was of the sort that never was published in the magazines.” Read the letter here
A rejection generator for writers.
This is exactly what it sounds like. It is also something you have to try even if you think you can't take any more rejection. The Stoneslide Corrective
developed this generator intended to send writers seven different kinds of rejection emails because “no matter how successful a writer is, each year there are Pulitzers to lose, as well as National Book Awards, PENs, and Nobels to not be selected for.” Try it out here
The American Copy Editors Society announced the winners of its headline contest at its recent national conference. Choire Sicha at The Awl
has a problem with them, calling the list "a batch of puns so foul, so egregious, that it's difficult to not feel pranked." Read the headlines and Sicha’s critique here
Three books on writing.
A trio of the great go-to writing books were the feature of NPR's "3 Books" series this week. You've heard (and probably read) of all of them, although you haven’t heard author and English professor Jonathan Gottschall describes how they worked in his writing career. Gottschall closes his piece with advice from an ancient Egyptian sage: “Happy is the heart of him who writes. He is young each day.”
Grammar errors startups must avoid.
Tech startups, that is. ReadWriteWeb
surveyed “several tech industry veterans” to assemble this list of frequently seen errors in startup copy. Some are the standby errors we're used to correcting. Others include overuse of the word “unique.” That's particularly bad in the startup world. And please don't "flush" out an idea. Read the full list here
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.