Sunday, March 1, 2009

Little betrayals

Have you ever been betrayed by someone you trusted? Just a few days ago, I was a witness to a terrible betrayal of confidence, which left me unhinged and unable to think with any kind of clarity.

It all started when I got a mysterious e-mail from John McGillicuddy, the copyreader who had been entrusted by Ed with the task of reading my books, in order to ascertain whether my stories were good enough to be published, or I’d better take up knitting.

The message said:

“Dear Leni,
I need to talk to you about your works. I wonder if you would agree to meet at my private office this coming Friday at 5pm. Please, bring a copy of your novels and a compilation of your short stories.
Best regards,

John McGillicuddy”

‘Dear Leni’? What happened to the good old formal ‘Ms Qinan’? And his private office… what was the reason for that sudden casualness and such a veil of secrecy? I had the feeling that something fishy was going on.

At first he showed a great deal of interest in my works, but then there followed a long period of silence. I thought that he had lost momentum or was simply putting me off. I was so used to publishers taking a French leave, that I really wouldn’t be surprised if I had never heard from him again.

The truth is I always wanted to become a writer and leave my ridiculously busy job at Dumbass Industries. But while I have a mortgage and too many bills to pay, the writing will have to wait.

On the other hand, I’m not exactly the kind of person to leave a consolidated career to pursue a dream. So you won’t see me making unpredictable moves or acting hastily. A small group of rationalistic cells in my brain drives my decisions and there’s no room for bohemian adventures.

In a word, I was very surprised that McGillicuddy would be resuming contact with me. I made a copy of everything I had written in my whole life and on Friday afternoon I rushed to McGillicudy’s private office, carrying a heavy pile of books.

- Good afternoon –I said, with a smile in my face-
- Good afternoon, Leni. Thanks for coming. Let me help you with the books. –he said-. I’ve called you because I've got something important to tell you.
- I’m all ears.
- Maybe you don’t know that your best chances of getting published are not exactly at Kynkybooks.
- What do you mean?
- Listen to this interesting conversation I had two days ago with Ed about you.

He took his cell phone and pressed the Play key.

- Did you read Leni’s story yet? –asked Ed-
- I did, and I asked her to send me more. –answered McGillicuddy-
- Sounded good to you? –asked Ed again- - Sounded publisheable to me, in fact. It’s powerful and emotional. It needs more work, though, but it’s good raw material. The only thing is… she sounds too Sandwichian.
- That will be probably one of her charms as a writer. Ask her to bring you one of her novels and read them thoroughly. Ask her to write something on demand; teach her the secrets of deadline writing. But if she’s not good enough, then forget about it.
- Ok.
- I want you to be hard on her; to start from a tougher line when you read her next story; to be stricter than with any other writer ever published by Kynkybooks. And please, e-mail me everything.

McGillicuddy stopped the recording. That conversation left me stone cold. I didn’t know what to say. It took me some seconds to react. I got up and said:

- Look John, I think I’m not interested in getting published anymore. –I said, looking down-
- Come on. I hope you’re not serious about it.
- Why would I want to be pressurized like a balloon filled to the max? And why whould I want to be judged by stricter criteria than the rest of the writers?
- That’s exactly what was asking myself. Just because you have a relationship with Ed, you shouldn’t be at a disadvantage.
–he said-
- I don’t have a relationship with Ed. Stop sticking your nose in my business.
- You don’t ? Everybody thinks you do.
- Then everybody is wrong.
- Good for you. I’m going to offer you a deal you can’t refuse

Why would he quote Marlon Brando in ‘The godfather’? I was intrigued about that deal which was supposed to be so beneficial for me. Since I had met the supernaturals, I never thought my life would ever be filled with so much bargaining and negotiating. I felt like I was the goddess of chaos, causing all kinds of havoc all over.

- Go on. –I said-
- Ed is not going to publish your books. He’s just beating around the bush. He proved it by lollygagging and giving you the run-around.

I stared at him with a scornful look.

- And what do you suggest? –I asked-
- It’s time to get your rear in gear, Leni. Join me and you’ll get published, but not at Kynkybooks. I have good contacts at an important Orsinian publisher that would love to sell your books. Faster and easier than Ed.

I sighed. It was pretty obvious that McGillicuddy was stealing new writers from Ed’s publishing business and offering them to those good contacts he mentioned, upon payment of a reasonable fee. And he was trying to tempt me.

I hate the smell of betrayal, and it was cutting through me like a lance. My sense of loyalty towards Ed prevented me from taking part in something that appeared to be shockingly unethical and disloyal; even when his lack of faith and harshness had really disheartened me.

- Forget it. As I said before, I’m not interested in getting published anymore. Least of all with your Orsinian publisher. I know my chances are remote and Ed doesn’t believe in me, but it’s Kynkybooks or nothing. I’m not playing along with you.
- How unfortunate, Leni. Dream on, then.

McGillicuddy’s general attitude, but more than anything his last words, really annoyed me. I took my books and left his office slamming the door with the gut-wrenching feeling of a deep disappointment.

As for myself… it was my fault as well, for having started mixing feelings and ambitions. But in all honesty, I didn’t understand why I had to be judged differently than the rest of writers and stand such an amount of unfairness, just because Ed wanted to be more royalist than the king.

By the way… did I say before that I was a rationalistic square-headed chick, with a steady logical mind, who would never leave everything behind to pursue her dreams?

This time I decided to give myself a treat. As soon as I got home, I packed my suitcase; bought online a plane ticket to Mawi-Mawi, a remote beautiful country which I had always wanted to visit, but never could; I booked a room at a charming small hotel and rented a car.

I texted my mom:
“I’m taking 3 weeks holidays. Will be in Mawi-Mawi, reachable on the cell phone. Smooch!”

I texted Big Cheese:
“I've got a bad case of extremely contagious chicken pox: horrible rash, spots, bumps, blisters and crusts; doc says I’ll be sick at least for 3 weeks. Will keep you abreast of things”.

And I texted Ed:
“McGillicuddy is betraying you. Don’t bother to get in touch with me. Gonna be very busy and emotionally unavailable for a while”.

"The first cut is the deepest" (Sheryl Crow)


rebecca said...

Wow! This excerpt was very good, Leni. The double feeling of betrayal was deeply felt. Ah, betrayal. We've all been there. And what is that they say? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me? I don't think, Leni the character will be fooled twice. She sounds like a smart girl who does not care to play head games and sorts....


Donn Coppens said...

UGH! This is exactly why I will never get published.

Do you suppose that an "Author"
A: either needs to be a complete sociopath and play the game (and everybody involved along the food chain) just to get things done


B:they are so obsessed that they honestly believe that their creation is the proverbial Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and that Mankind cannot be denied access to their scribblings or civilization as we know it will cease to exist?


C: Lucky.

Grass said...

I am not very knowledgeable in the politics of publishing but it seems that betrayals exist everywhere. I guess you really have to go with the flow to have your dreams come true, but for what price? Sacrifice your principle? Keep your principle despite the frustrations-was once said by my professor when he learned that the local government were questioning my report on illegal mining operations, etc.

I guess the same thing applies to you now, and I'm glad that you stayed strong and refused the offer. Enjoy your vacation!


p.s. I hope you're not too "sick" with chickenpox and such to write more blogs while you're soaking up the sun in Mawi2.. hehehe

Nahuatl said...

I need a vacation too! :(

Leni Qinan said...

Hi everybody,

Sorry for being late but I’ve been on a short trip during the weekend and couldn’t check your comments;
I took my laptop with me, but really had no time to do that;
now I’m back and ready to start with my backsies commentsies.

Leni Qinan said...

Dear Rebecca,

Thank you very much for sweet words. Most situations are deeply felt here, as Leni the character and also the real girl are very emotional and sensitive people.
But don’t think Leni is so smart: Her hear betrays her too often, always disagreeing with what her mind recommends. Hence all the confusion in her life.
But we’ve all been here too, haven’t we? Including myself (too often, *sigh*)


Leni Qinan said...

Hi Donn!

Never say NEVER. One day I may see your books in, lol.

What I think is that an author,

A: Needs good contacts and marketing skills to play the game. Call it to be a sociopath, it’s marketing work.

B: Should get a professional assessment about whether it’s worth to continue writing or take up knitting. Some people write real crap. Others write nice stuff just for fun. As for myself, I’m glad that people read what I write here, I don’t need more.

C: A lot of that too. Meaning to be at the right place, on the right time, with the right editor.

And it must not be that bad too never get published. Ask Danielle Steele or John Grisham. But betrayals? Not for me.

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Grassy!

Unfortunately betrayals are all over, dear. Here the price is too high and I’m not keen on paying it.
It’s hard for me to betray someone I love. To me, loyalty is stronger than ambition. I would never betray Ed, even if it means to not get published.
Your professor gave you good advice. Stick to these principles, not only for work, but also for life.

Awww… don’t worry, sis, I had chicken pox when I was 17 –horrible, lol-. As far as I know, you can’t have it twice, no worries:
I'll keep blogging during my Mawi-Mawian vacation. ;)


Leni Qinan said...

Hi Nayan!

Come over to Mawi-Mawi, then. There’s a sunny beach, plenty of food and booze and nice chicks at the beach, lol.

Take care!

max said...

Hey Leni!
Do you think he really deservves your loyalty? He doesn't seem to be supporting you either.
Think of it.

Btw, i just love this song, but I prefer Cat Stevens' version.

Bug hug.

Anonymous said...

mmm quién no pasó alguna vez por eso....?

Pero...'lo que no mata fortalece' dicen (fortalece, y endurece, supongo que agregaría yo...).

Esa canción es muy linda, y bien clarita(a mí me gusta mucho la versión de Rod Steward;).



Leni Qinan said...


I’m loyal beyond belief to the ones I love, but I’m not stupid. I know he supports me; it’s just that he sees things from a different perspective. So never ask me that question again. He deserves my loyalty and more than that.

I also love this song. I’m not a huge fan of Cat Stevens –a bit too sweet for my taste-, but the song is beautiful and fits very well here. ;)

Big hug for you too.

Leni Qinan said...


Tienes mucha razón. Desgraciadamente todos hemos pasado por ahí. La vida tiene estas cosas a veces. Y así es como acabamos teniendo la piel más dura que las conchas de un galápago.;)
Y por eso ‘the first cut is the deepest’.

Me alegro mucho de que te guste la canción –muy clarita, ¿verdad?- (ahora mismo estoy escuchando la versión de Rod Stewart, con su camiseta de los Glasgow Celtics, desde el Royal Albert Hall en youtube… qué tipo tan simpático, me encanta). Realmente duele el primer desengaño…

Mil besos transatlánticos.

Dick said...

Oh well, enjoy your holiday and keep on trying but on the right way.

Leni Qinan said...

Lol Dick, I promise not to steal anymore, haha!

mohammad said...

hi leni.Im Mohammad and from's the first time i visit your blog by come across and i'm very pleased.i think you'll be a good writer in near future and hope be successful in all the moments in your life.
i like to send me your idea about me to my e-mail; , please.
by the way, forgive me if my english isn't good.
best wishes