A Query Letter
Dear Magazine Fiction Editor Person:
I am writing to you with the hopes that you will put my story in your magazine. I am twenty-four and live in Manhattan right now, but I was born in Wilkes-Barre which is in Pennsylvania. I would like you to publish my story as I'd like to be a famous writer very much even though it's a very tough job. That's why I came to New York and have decided that I will try to make it as a writer, and, if I don't do that, I will try something else artistic, maybe sculpturing.
If you want to know the truth, nothing happened where I lived that I could write about. I am not from an oppressed minority, and I have not had too many sexual experiences if you know what I mean. Wilkes-Barre is mostly a working class coal town, and most of the people are of slightly foreign extraction and very conservative and, therefore, I think, very much behind the times. If I were to write about them I would have to write like Upton Sinclair or somebody who was writing in the 1930s because that is what the people are like; I'm not kidding either. If I were to write like 1930, no one would read it because they've already read it, and so I couldn't be a writer and would have to do something else which I don't want to do because I heard a voice when I was in Wilkes-Barre that kept saying, "Art, Art," all the time.
It took me a long time to think up the story I want to send you, and this is how I write mainly: I wait for something to happen, and then I put it down on paper, but first I say to myself, "would it be interesting for people to read about." Then I toss in symbols and imagery, which is my process and why, mainly, I don't write too much because interesting things are hard to find. I could make personal things up, but that wouldn't be good because people would only be reading about my artistic dreams, and it might not be interesting to them to read that stuff. So I decided to stick to the first way I thought up.
If I were oppressed or in prison, I could write better. I would have more things to say as I noticed that a lot of people who are in these situations are being printed in magazines. But since I am from Pennsylvania and not oppressed, it might be good to print my story just to have a balance because there are probably several people who read your magazine who could identify with the kind of normal stories I create.
It wouldn't do any good to learn more about me or my room because it really would not help understand the symbols in my oeuvre. From my window I can see part of 21st Street and Seventh Ave, but after 7:00 PM it is not busy. Things rarely happen there so writers like me have to be patient and wait, which is what writing is mostly about. If I were a sculptor this would not be so.
I know that you have a good many stories sent to you and not too much time to read them and also, if you have to choose between my story and one by Joyce Carol Oates, I know you are going to pick her because she is better than I am, and your magazine will make more money, but I hope you will not do this as this story means a lot to me.
My story is about a lady who stayed in the same single room occupancy place I am. The only thing that is not true is the suicide part which I made up because her life was so futile. Also, I think my describing her the way I do makes her a more beautiful person than she really was, but, if she went on a diet, she might look like when I used the word "voluptuous" (it means sexually appealing).
I know that when you start to read it you are going to say, "Oh no, not another story about a lonely thirty-five year old woman in a Manhattan residence hotel," but I hope that you will read more than the first paragraph because I tried to make her life symbolic to the loneliness we all feel. Sometimes I have used clichés, but that's the way she really was; in fact, you would be surprised but I had to take out many trite things. My main point is that people in real life are boring, and the only exciting thing that happens is in the movies or in your magazine. That's why I feel my story is different as it tries to catch a glimpse of what living is really involved with.
Probably some of the college people around you are going to disagree with this and will tell you that people don't want to read this because it will not sell magazines, but you should hold out for your artistic integrity because what they are saying is that people don't want to be faced with the truth about life, which is what my story is about.
Somebody might also say to have some sexual stuff in the issue about a man and a prostitute or something rather than this story about Carla who is just an office worker. What I am striving for here is something more than just printing my story. There is a principle involved and possibly a new slant on story writing which I would be willing to lecture to groups about as I am available right now. I think people read and see too much fantasy, and they really believe it when they come to New York and expect things to happen to change their lives, but nothing ever does. They become frustrated and lonely and do bad things to themselves or to other people.
In my story I wrote two endings; the one with suicide (which I like the best) and the other one which I will put on yellow paper so you won't get confused. That "yellow" ending has Carla shoot the mayor, and I think that this could really happen because she is so bored and lonely and upset about that time on page eight when she went through the ladies' entrance to meet Manuel, who tried to grope her and then later made her jump out of a taxi with tears running down her face. She goes back to the hotel with no one to talk to and can't tell anyone what happened which might relieve the pressure so she decides to take pills. But, if that guy down the hall from her wasn't so busy writing stories all the time, he might have reached out, knocked on her door, and they could have talked because they were both lonely with just a wall separating them. Yet they don't know about each other's problems and still might not have wanted to get involved because they would both have to admit that they were desperate and that would be too much. There is lots of irony in this ending.
In this ending (still the "yellow" one) I decided that she would commit suicide and not leave a note because no one in humanity would bother to read it except the police, which is true even though I made it up. That is why I thought this ending would be the best, but, if you like the "white" ending where, after she shoots the mayor, she gets shot many times in the municipal building by a detective who dresses up like a cleaning lady and promises to be motherly to her before he pulls out a gun from his stocking, if you like that one, then you can use it.
If you like the story but don't like any of the endings, you can get in touch, and I will send others, and you can judge them to see which is the most symbolic. If you would like, I could also come up to your office and talk to you about this and would be happy to explain anything you don't understand. If you wanted to call me, you could leave a message with the desk clerk during the day whose name is Jimmy.
If you have filled up the forthcoming issue with stories, I could change the story into a poem, though this would take more time as I am not used to writing poems as of yet. I also see that you interview people so, if you'd like to interview me and my theory of short stories or creativity, I could come and see you. In closing, I would appreciate it if you would pick my story over more famous artists for next month, but, if you don't print it, then I will wait for the one after the next.
Yours very truly,
Alexander J. Proctor
PS: I see that you print art things too, and since I am considering sculpturing, you can contact me at the same address where I am a writer. The man at the desk is Jimmy, but he does not go up to the rooms during the day as he is busy and must stay at the front so he will put a message in my box, and I will be checking it often beginning on the 14th because it usually takes two days for a letter to get here.
I am thinking seriously of moving to the Hotel Chelsea because it has a literary history with the money I get from this story (if you like it and are kind enough to give me a chance), but I will not give my notice until I hear from you. I am very reliable and stable so, if you were to suggest a contract for more of my stories, I could write them because I do not drink or do drugs and right now am concentrating one hundred per cent on writing stories. If you wanted to have one of those writer's lunch meetings I could get to Elaine's or some other writer place. I would take the Lexington Ave. local and either walk or take a bus to her restaurant. I am very reliable and would be on time and not embarrass you by the way I act or dress.
PPS: I almost forgot to say that if you don't have room for my story, perhaps you could leave less space between some of the photos, use a smaller font or maybe scrunch two or more poems on a page. That might leave space for something by me. Also, I made the title of my story as "Carla, the Office Temp: One of Many." I had several titles in mind and gave much thought to them so I wrote them all down on pink paper to be organized from my ending #2 which is on yellow. You can pick any title you want. I would like to be told if you do use a title other than the ones I have invented so that I can see if it relates to the theme symbolically or not. Feel free to call me anytime as I will be available and do not go out too often as I am always busy experimenting about writing short stories in a new form.
Again, Very truly yours,
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