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three days, or four, at the most - and then she would know. But days slipped into weeks until a month had passed and she had received no word, and she concluded the story was not even worth returning. year later a friend told her that she had just read a story of hers. "Where?" she said, astonished. "In the Epworth Herald.” So she sent a letter of inquiry, and the answer came, enclosing check, and saying that while return postage had been enclosed when the story was offered, the name and address was written on the letter only, and not on the manuscript, and that the letter had been lost.
Marion Pugh Read, whose story, "Fancy and Fact," was printed in the Editor's Drawer of Harper's Magazine for March, has been writing but a short time. Her first story was a little Quaker tale, When Silence Was Golden," which appeared in the Christmas number of Harper's, in 1911, the heroine being this same little girl, Caroline Spense. Others of the same series wil! appear in Harper's in the near future, and a little Quaker story is coming out in the July American. These little Quaker settings come quite naturally to Miss Read, since she was born and brought up in the environment of Friends, one of her ancestors, Richard Townsend, having come over in the Welcome with William Penn. Miss Read is not a Friend herself, although she comes of Quaker stock, both of her grandmothers being Friends. Her home is no longer in Pennsylvania, but in New York city. Since leaving college she has spent considerable time abroad and on a ranch in the West. The Housekeeper last year published three of her stories, two of them being Western stories.
man was ever more
"I don't suppose a weary of a task than I was o' my Friedrich. It was a good ten years' work, and from
the beginning it was vexation o' the spirit, and weariness o' the flesh. It was a good, hard droogery, siftin' mostly a monstrous accumulation o' lies, and o' all the nations the Garman lies with most scrupulosity and detail, and tryin' to make a consistent character of Friedrich out o' a confused mass o' endless, conflictin' detail, and not a book among them all with an index. Piles on piles o' rubbish to be dug into, and dug through, dirtyin' yer hands with the dust o' worms, and never findin' any helpfulness or assistance in the work which other men had done before ye. I sometimes thought I'd geeve it all up, but by dint o' regular work and exercise I at last got through with it.' Scribner's Magazine.
Clemens. Albert Bigelow Paine, in his authorized Life of Mark Twain, quotes Mr. Clemens as saying: "I like Joan of Arc' best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasureafforded me by any of the others twelve years of preparation and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation, and got none."
Page 1,038. I hate to have your father pictured as lashing a slave boy.
It's out, and my father is whitewashed. Page 1,050. Second line from the bottom, change breech-clout. It's a word that you love and I abominate. I would take that and "offal" out of the language.
You are steadily weakening the Eng-. lish tongue, Livy.
Page 1,095. Perhaps you don't care, but whoever told you that the Prince's green stones were rubies told an untruth. They were superb emeralds. Those strings of pearls and emeralds were famous all over Bombay.
All right, I'll make them green Green emeralds, but it loses force. rubies is a fresh thing. And besides it was one of the Prince's own staff liars that told me.
CURRENT LITERARY TOPICS.
The Story of "The Broad Highway."— Recalling his struggles at authorship, before his success of "The Broad Highway" came to him, Jeffery Farnol in the course of an autobiographical sketch appearing in T. P.'s Weekly, says that a large part of that romantic novel was written in a dismal studio in a building at the corner of Thirty-Eighth street and Tenth avenue, New York, where he was seeking a precarious livelihood as a scene painter. "For two years every moment I could snatch from other work I gave to my writing, and at the end sent it out into the world to try its fortune. It was returned from two publishers- the Century Co. and the Scribners — with promptitude. Dodd, Mead & Co. declined it as 'too long and too English.' An actor friend. with the very best intentions - took it with him to Boston, intending to submit it to a firm in that city, but forgot all about it, and brought it back at the end of a year unopened. Then I was minded to burn it - it was cumbersome, and a disappointment - how great only those who have been similarly circumstanced can know. But wiser counsels prevailed, and I decided to send the manuscript to my mother, feeling sure that if she, who had ever been and is still my severest
critic, thought well of it, something might be done with it in England. After carefully reading it, fearing her own judgment might be prejudiced, she gave it to her old friend, Shirley B. Jevons, at that time editor of the Sportsman to whom I subsequently dedicated the book; and he, seeing virtues in it which I fondly hope may be there, it was duly published by Sampson, Low, Marston & Co., the only firm it was submitted to on this side of the Atlantic."
Charles Reade's Struggle For Rea gnition. The London Bookman, in the current number, which is complimentary to Charles Reade, prints an "account with literature" which the famous novelist drew up in 1851 after he had been struggling with literature for twenty years:
"Item My family had brought me up and educated me till I was sixteen.
Item I earned my demyship at Magdalen College, £18 a year, at seventeen. "ItemAt twenty-one I obtained my fellowship, beginning at £250 per annum and ultimately rising to £650.
"Item From Bentley for book of Peg Woffington,' £30.
"In all, £105. That is to say, about half a crown a week for eighteen years not enough to pay for pens, ink, and paper, leaving copying and shoe leather out of the question."
"Good God," Reade once said, "had it not been for the fellowship which, though it bound me to celibacy, preserved me from pauperdom — and a mother's generous help I must have been in the workhouse or breaking stones on the highway."
It was after this long and fruitless apprenticeship that the writer was by chance turned into the path which was to bring him recognition finally. It had always been his aim to succeed in the dramatic field and his endeavors had been in this line, but at
It was by accident that he again turned to the novel. In 1855 a great sensation was holding England in the trial and conviction of the governor of Birmingham jail for cruelty to the prisoners in his custody. Reade was appalled by the revelations, made a study of prison conditions, and wrote “ It Is Never Too Late to Mend."
It became popular, and the author kept steadilyon at fiction of the same realistic type, having written several such books before his great work, “The Cloister and the Hearth," appeared in 1861. This book of course is of such extraordinary merit, often being classed as the finest piece of historical fiction in the English language, and second in any case only to “Henry Esmond,” that it will make the author go down in literary history as a one-book man, – New York Sun.
Technique and the Short Story. - The chief fault of the short story of commerce can be summed up in two words - excessive technique. In their effort to put lots of technique into their tales, the writers leave out everything else. They have no room to crowd in observation, character, experience; sincerity is seldom to be met with. The writers seem to imagine that there is some one mould in which alone the “perfect short story" — vain phrase can be shaped.
Technique has reduced the short story to a tissue of worn-out conventions. The persistence of this idea that technique.- usually identified vaguely with plot and a style – is everything is shown in the comments of the editor of a current magazine, who introduces Turgeniev to his readers. In effect, he apologizes for Turgeniev; the reader must remember that Turgeniev wrote before the technique of the short story as we know it
in America to-day was developed. Doing without plot, he was reduced to the necessity of gaining his effects largely by truth in characterization. What a naive remark! As long as this bogy of technique exists how shall we develop a literature that is free, strong, interpretative, that has the courage to reflect life as it is? -- Chicago RecordHerald.
Hint to Young Writers. Do not repeat. Say whatever you have to say in the most forceful way you can devise and let that suffice. Do not say the same thing over and over again. Do not weary the reader by the recurrence of the same thought even though you vary the form. Constant reiteration of identical ideas, far from adding anything to their value, is liable to detract therefrom. Do not give the reader the impression that you are harping on one string. Authorities agree that excessive reaffirmation is a mark of a faulty style. Do not let yourself revert again and again to the same concept. Avoid repetition. — Life.
Novels Without Endings. In the English language there are at least six novels which have only a beginning. Like the grandfather's clock, “they stop short, never to go again,” because the authors died before they could finish their works. The
famous of these is The Mystery of Edwin Drood," which some critics think would have been Dickens's masterpiece had he lived to finish it. But it still remains a mystery in spite of countless efforts to solve it.
Robert Louis Stevenson also left an unfinished novel upon which he was engaged when death ended his labors. The novel was entitled “ St. Ives," but, happily, there was more to go upon than in the case of “Edwin Drood," and it is generally admitted that Sir Quilter Couch made one of the best attempts to finish another man's novel.
While everybody knows that Dickens left a novel unfinished, few know that his great rival. Thackeray, did the same.
The novelist had just started the Cornhill Vagazine, of which the most prominent feature was a novel from the editor's pen,
entitled “ Denis Duval,” which he was writing month by month as the installments fell due. Suddenly he died and the serial was but hali finished. Fortunately, however, the careful Thackeray had left full notes for the development of the story, which was finished by Frederick Greenwood.
Who has not read “Pride and Prejudice" and “Sense and Sensibility," the productions of a quiet little woman named Jane Austen? She died when she was in the midst of another masterpiece, entitled “The Watsons," which was found in her desk after her death.
What the world lost when Charlotte Brontë died, who can say? For one thing, it missed a nameless novel which the gifted author of "Jane Eyre" had started. But so little had she done on it that none of her successors in fiction has had the temerity to attempt even to finish it, and it is likely to remain an interesting fragment.
In this respect it may be compared to another unfinished work, Edgar Allan Poe's weird story, “ The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym." Who could finish that story? It is doubtful whether Poe himself could, for he lived eleven years after it was first published in its fragmentary condition. — TitBits.
Writing as a Business. Last week we ceived the following pathetically desperate letter :
“My records show that during the present year I have sent you nineteen manuscripts at an expense of more than a dollar for stamps alone, yet they have all come back with persistent regularity. I would very much like to know just what kind of material you prefer, for I am poor, and if I keep on paying out money for stamps and never sell any of my articles I shall starve to death and die like a rat in a hole, and I know you do not want me to do that.
Several years ago I succeeded in selling you an occasional article, and surely I have more ability now than I had then. I have tried very hard to do some good work for you this year, and yet it has not profited me a single penny. If you will tell me exactly what you want, I know I can do you some acceptable work. Certainly God does n't want me to starve.
There must be a living for me, the same as there is for you.”
Also last week we received this letter :
“I know of nothing in all the world so calculated to develop the sublime quality of patience as becoming an author. Here I have been sending you manuscript after manuscript, which you have turned down with implacable regularity. Have you, indeed, no heart that I may touch? Some of the very things you have refused have been accepted by some of your contemporaries — great papers, too."
Last week also brought us several offerings from a writer who for many years has sent us regularly, every week and sometimes almost every day, several poems or stories, and not one of them has proved acceptable. This writer must have spent at least twenty dollars in stamps in sending these many manuscripts and including stamps for their return, and we have spent much more than twenty dollars' worth of our time in examining them. And all to no profit.
That item of an editor's time is never considered by these unlucky writers. They think they are ill treated because the editor does not accept from them what he does not need or want, and pay them for it into the bargain. They give him no word of thanks for taking the time, out of his busy day, to examine manuscripts that he is quite sure, before he reads them, he will not find available.
Suppose you were a commercial traveler, trying to sell goods to a retailer. You would count it a privilege to get access to the dealer or his buyer. You would not feel insulted if he said to you: “ The goods you offer are not in our line," or We are fully supplied, at present, with the kind of goods you offer.” You would not think of coming back, day after day and week after week ; and if you did, you would be turned out of doors. Yet the editor's doors are always cordially open to you, his time is at your disposal for a sufficient examination of your wares, and if he is obliged to return them you call him hard-hearted, and ask if he wants to let you starve !
Writing is a business, not unlike any other business. It is the writer's business to
bring to the editor what he cannot afford to send back. It is not the editor's business to train the writer, to give him bright subjects and teach him a bright style. The editor could n't do this, if he would. If an editor has brains enough to run a paper, he presumably has brains enough to know what he wants to put into that paper, and to take it when it comes to him; also to send back what he does not want to put into the paper, or what he has enough of. He is n't going to be browbeaten by any amount of talk about what his contemporaries have accepted, nor does he dare to buy manuscripts out of pity, or friendship, or for any reason except that they fit into the needs of his
As for this particular paper, it has enough manuscripts accepted and paid for, in most departments, to fill it for two years without buying another line. The authors of these manuscripts have the right to see them in print before they die. We could get along finely if we did not read an offered manuscript for twenty-four months.
And yet we, like all other editors, are continually on the lookout for what is better than anything we have—brighter, wiser, more pointed, more informing, closer in touch with the times. There is always room for a short story of exceptional brilliancy and helpfulness, for a poem of real beauty and strength, for a brief essay of freshness and vivacity, for a descriptive article containing original observations and striking facts on a worthwhile subject. In the hope of finding these we are glad every week to wade through scores of manuscripts that are no better than we have on hand by the dozen, and usually nowhere near so good. Any writer that can furnish them is sure of a welcome; and one who finds out, by thorough trial, that he cannot furnish them, would better turn his energies into some more profitable channel.
- Amos R. Wells, in the Christian Endeavor World.
LITERARY ARTICLES IN PERIODICALS
[Readers who send to the publishers of the periodicals indexed for copies of the periodicals containing the articles mentioned in the following
reference list will confer a favor if they will mention THE WRITER.]
BOOK-PUBLISHING AND ITS PRESENT TENDENCIES. George P. Brett. Atlantic for April.
REALISM AND REALITY IN FICTION. William Lyon Phelps. Century for April.
ON THE Two KINDS OF REPORTERS. Simeon Strunsky. Open Letters, Century for April.
ARNOLD BENNETT'S BOOK ON THE UNITED STATES. W. D. Howells. Editor's Easy Chair, in Harper's Magazine for April.
ROMANCE. Editor's Study, Harper's Magazine for April.
LETTERS AND JOURNALS OF CHARLES ELIOT NORTON. Scribner's for April.
THACKERAY AND FIELDING. Frederick S. Dickson. North American Review for April.
ON THE PRIVILEGE OF REALISTS. Helen Sard Hughes. North American Review for April. GOETHE AND THE CHEMISTS. Professor Roy Temple House. Popular Science Monthly for April.
SHAKSPERE AS AN ECONOMIST. Professor Henry W. Farnam. Yale Review for April.
DANTE AS THE INSPIRER OF ITALIAN PATRIOTISM. William Roscoe Thayer. Yale Review for April. SHAKSPERE HIMSELF. Brander Matthews. Bookman
JOHN BURROUGHS. With frontispiece portrait. Charles S. Olcott. Home Progress for April.
LOUISA ALCOTT'S GREAT FRIEND AND NEIGHBOR (R. W. Emerson). Ariadne Gilbert. St. Nicholas for April.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE. With portraits. A. St. John Adcock. Strand for April.
JOAQUIN MILLER. With portrait. American Review of Reviews for April.
LITERATURE A FINE ART. R. A. Scott-James. English Review for April.
LAFCADIO HEARN: A FRENCH ESTIMATE. Michael Monahan. Forum for March.
THE MODEL OF THE LEATHER STOCKING TALES. James Routh. Modern Language Notes for March. MISCELLANEOUS NOTES ON POE. Killis Campbell. Modern Language Notes for March.