The Shakespeare Deniers make lots of flimsy claims, as well as assertions that are anachronistic. These might look solid at first glance, convincing people who don’t know the period Shakespeare wrote in. Deep-fried Doubters want you to believe that there have always been suspicions about “authorship,” but that’s completely false. Nobody in Shakespeare’s time and for years afterwards every doubted that he wrote the plays. The “controversy” started in the middle of the 19th century.
I’ve been publishing for a long time and I’ve dealt with all kinds of editors. Some are laid back. Some are very hands-on. Some are hard to pin down. Some are extremely helpful and supportive. And a few–very few–are difficult or even opaque. They tell you one thing but mean something completely different that you couldn’t have guessed at.
Here’s what happened a few years ago with one of those.
I pitched an idea to a magazine about the farkakteh theory that Shakespeare was a Jewish woman (yes!), which is just another bit of nutty Shakespeare Denialism that’s been a flourishing industry for way too long. James Shapiro wrote an entertaining book about it: Contested Will.
Then he sent back my blog and basically told me that it had to be completely rewritten. But that wasn’t all: he thought it should be re-shaped to say what he wanted, which was bizarre, since in our previous emails, he’d never told me any of his opinions. If he had, I would have gone elsewhere.
Was I annoyed? Of course. I’d been publishing dozens of articles, essays, short stories, and books for years and dealing with editors who were much more professional than that. Except for one, “and thereby hangs a tale….”
I sent the piece to The Huffington Post. They took it right away, beginning my long relationship with that site. I waited till the blog was posted and wrote back to the first editor that I was sorry he didn’t like my approach, but someone else did.
I included the link.
Sometimes revenge isn’t just sweet, it’s swift. This time it was so swift that it wasn’t even worth saving the editor for a character to put into my Nick Hoffman mystery series–appropriately disguised, of course. I just brushed it off.