Saturday, September 16, 2006

Manslave Hayes

The above is the entrance to my office.

My internship is with the Connecticut Review magazine. The rewarding joys of this work is that I will have the opportunity to sort mail, file, stuff envelopes, read proof copies of the CT Review for MLA discrepancies, and be a research monkey for various CSU faculty.

The intern's editoral desk.
At least they spelled my name right.
My first and most rewarding task at the Connecticut Review office is sorting the mail. All this janky mail comes in various sizes of manila envelopes. I have to open the packages, not as easy as it sounds, read the cover letters, determine the genre and mark the genre on the outside of the envelope.
Where the mail is sorted.
When I read the letters, I have to determine two additional things. The first is if the writer has super-special credentials like winning a noble prize or is friend of Paul Newman or Ike Turner. The second is if the submitting writer is somehow connected with the CSU school system (teacher, janitor, or groupie) or if they know the editors of the CT Review publication. So a tip for writers sending your story out to these types of publications: Pretend you know the editor. Say something like, “Remember [insert editors name] this was the story I told you about when I was at that BBQ with you.” Just do it. Some smucky intern will think you fall into some nepotism clause and send you right to the editor’s desk. Another tip, don’t tape, seal the envelope in glue and use the little, prongy things to seal your envelope. One of those methods will suffice. The intern does not like this behavior. You do not want to anger the intern. We have the capacity to lose things like your padlocked manuscript. We can smell your insecurity on the salvia. We know you’re a bad writer and will spread such a rumor based solely on your paranoia. Don’t think we won’t.
Additionally, the last tip is that certain marketing savvy writers send these nifty, glossy cards with their name and credentials on one side and usually a neat picture of a nature scene or puppies on the back. The intern likes brevity and puppies.
The air is always fresh at my, CT Review office.

The best part about sorting the mail is that the security guard gives me a hard time by making me stand in the lobby for a long time and calling everyone he can think of to try to validate my “story” of having an internship with the CT Review. Once I pass him, I can drink all the free, Poland spring water I can handle in one sitting from a water cooler. Also, the tiny, lunch room has a vending machine that carries Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Rice Crispy Bars. I have found these rare treats in no other place.
This is the "heater" for the cold, winter months.

To summarize envelope stuffing has taken a few minutes of contemplation. I take letters and issues of Connecticut Review place them in an envelope and send them to directors of MFA programs. Thus the MFA administrations can tell their budding, brilliant progenies to send their work to Connecticut Review thus giving me more mail to sort. See Brian if you would like a sampling of various literary journals hot for your writing best. Make their interns pay for their foolish choice to volunteer their precious life.
Where the rest of the CT Review employees work.

My duties as research chimp have not yet begun. I hope to stay as quiet as possible about this— ninja quiet.
Where I leave the sorted mail for John.

Now a word about filing: unfulfilling. But really it’s not that bad. There is this whole, pulp tomb of accepted manuscripts that I have to sort. I rummage through those stories and poems with the current issue of CT Review to ensure that previously published stories don’t find their way into another issue of the magazine. This requires going thorough a hundred or so manuscripts and comparing their titles to the titles in the table of contents of the current issue. Those rascally, previously published manuscripts! You never quite know where they may turn up.

At some time I’ll get to read the submissions sent to the Connecticut Review and fill out these sheets called “Manuscript Evaluation Fiction.” I will vote if a story is a yes, maybe, or no. I will compose a 100-word synopsis of the story and evaluate the plot, pacing, setting, characterization, dialogue, and point of view. On the sheet, the second to last and most revealing question of this fiction vetting is “Does the story have an edge?” If it does, in fact, have an edge then the final question is posed, “Does the story present uncomfortable or subtle forgotten truths that make you mentally catch your breath, or was it mainly dressed up platitudes?” If you are able to understand that particular sentence, please email me at Thank you for your kindness.
This giant printer prints early versions of the CT Review on that paper they use to cover the seats at the doctor's office. It is pretty neat.
The word “intern” has a slightly bitter flavor in my mouth, but I wash that down with a paper cup filled with free water and chase that cool aqua with a Peanut Butter Crispy Bar and all is right with the world again.

1 comment:

Ron Samul said...

Thanks for making my day. An office with your name on it, some people have all the luck.