Dear Miss Snark,
I would greatly appreciate any advice of words of wisdom you may have to offer regarding my current dilemma. My Great Uncle Glen, who hails from across the pond, sent me a bound copy of his manuscript months ago. It seems that in jolly old England the Daily Mail will print and bind your MS for about 20 quid a copy, my great uncle, who's pushing seventy-five, sent them his 185,000 word MS and has now distributed six copies of the most God awful, mind numbing, stab yourself in the frontal lobe, hopeless drivel, around the world to torture various and assorted family members.
I, as you may have guessed, am the unfortunate recipient of one such copy. Because of my recent attendance at a writer conference and a single agent's request to read a partial of my MS, my great uncle has somehow gotten it into his head that I have publishing connections. (Please pick yourself up off the floor, really, such unbridled hysterics are so unbecoming.)
I am currently trying to convince him otherwise by sending him pictures of my hovel house, threadbare wardrobe, empty fridge, and overstocked liquor cabinet, I think he's beginning to get the idea and has consigned himself to receiving nothing other than a critique from me.
My problem is, I can not read the damn thing. It's awful, dreadful, the protagonist slaps his hysterical wife while she is holding their newborn in the second paragraph, there are more typos than I care to record and to top it off, the Daily Mail has printed this TPO with eighteen words per line and forty-five lines per page managing to contain 185,000 words in 230 pages! I'll be blind by the time I finish.
Surely Miss Snark has had to deal with one or two of Grandmother Snark's MS's, what do you do when your family and friends expect you to weigh in on their crap?
Welcome to my world!
"oh, you're in publishing? here read my manuscript" is the opening salvo in many a curbside skirmish that devolves into fisticuffs, emptied gin pails, and Killer Yapp requiring the services of a bail bondsman.
One does not ever EVER critique the work of a friend or relative in this instance. One smiles sagely and says "I would dearly love to read your work, and I'm so sorry I can't". Then you stop talking. Only the truly foolhardy will press you with "why" and then you say "my agent requires exclusives". Anyone witless enough to press further is met with "I'm sorry, I"m not able to explain further."
Under no circumstances do you deviate from this or you can expect to be 1. cut out of the will 2. cut out of the family hols 3. cut out of the family tree or worst of all 4. declared Uncle's literary executor.
Miss Snark does not announce her chosen profession at social gatherings for just this reason. There are several hostesses in New York in fact who believe Miss Snark is an ent-omologist based in Central Park. (double points to the first person explaining the joke)