I had this editor who was so bad at writing, and he wanted me to review his books. Everything at his literary journal where he was the editor in chief was a quid pro quo, save the inclusion of my work, because I wouldn't do a quid pro quo. But every single other published story was by someone who'd just done something for this guy. In each issue, without fail, he'd publish a piece of total garbage by Joyce Carol Oates, because she gave him blurbs that were utterly vacuous, as most blurbs are. Her stories were effective in that you could read them aloud to someone--just the first couple paragraphs would do it--and you'd laugh like hyenas over how obviously wretched it was. Really it was like some colossal joke that 1. Someone wrote it 2. Someone wasn't embarrassed to have anyone else see it 3. Someone printed it and 4. People in publishing and writing programs pretended it wasn't as bad as it obviously was. But, that's Joyce Carol Oates, and that's publishing. Which isn't so funny at all, when you get down to it. In truth, it's deadly, especially as far as my own life goes.
Anyway, this guy sends me his book. His books were always the same. They featured some divorced guy who was kind of creepy, with a son--in other words, they were this guy. The son was the main thing in his life, which hadn't worked out the way he wanted it to, and so it went in all of this man's books, just as it did in his life.
I get this particular book in the mail, and I start reading it. The creepy guy/protagonist spends a lot of time peeping, like out of closets and stuff. And every time he's aroused, this editor/author would write, "He started to erect." "Again, he started to erect." "Once more, he began to erect."
I stopped counting after two dozen times, and I couldn't get halfway through the book. This guy won a bunch of Pushcart prizes, offering yet more proof as to how meaningless and backwards things like that are, but again, his entire career was a favor trade. I don't know why I think about this as often as I do. This particular person was nowhere near as bad as almost everyone else in publishing. He was a comparative saint, and this is the kind of ethics we're talking about, to say nothing of the lack of ability. He started to erect.
I worked on three stories this morning. Part of what I said about crossing items off the list. Need to do better next week.