Thursday, October 8, 2009

Backstory of my Run-in with ESQUIRE fiction editor -- a continuing saga?

guest blog by Julianna Baggott

In 2006, Tom Chiarella, the then brand new fiction editor at ESQUIRE, sent an Esquire cocktail napkin to 200 fiction writers. The request? Write a story on the cocktail napkin. It was smart, clever, innovative.

The problem was that I was pregnant, tired, overwhelmed, pissed.

And so I wrote on my napkin, alright. I congratulated Chiarella on his new post as fiction editor and then said, But, frankly, F-This. I went on from there to say F this and F that ... and make some proclamations about Fitzgerald, in poetic terms, and then on feeling reduced and reduced and further reduced. Now I have to fit on a cocktail napkin? That kind of thing...

You can see the full text here -- the napkin and, beneath it, a transcription.

I kind of became crazy about Chiarella -- who's a damn good writer, by the way -- because not only did he publish it online, which seemed like a pretty upscale place for my rant to land, but because he wrote me back -- a beautiful letter about his own mortgaged soul -- again, see the cocktail napkin for the context of the Fitzgerald reference...

I wrote him back -- again on a napkin as I thought this to be his preferred form of communication -- something short and thankful and sweet with a big red lipstick smooch on it.

Now, thing is, I'm going to meet Chiarella for the first time, in person, this November at the Sanibel Writer's Conference.

Does he think I'm crazy? Does he think I'm fine? Maybe he doesn't even remember me cussing at him on a cocktail napkin ... Right?

More to come.