This has certainly been a depressing summer.
How depressing has it been? Let me count the ways.
1. During the past 24 hours, my novel, "Small Town News" has been rejected five times by five literary agents. The way they do it is fascinating.
"Dear Mr. Turner:
Thank you for your query. As interesting as your novel sounds, I don't believe I would be the best agent to represent your work. Best of luck to you though, and thank you for thinking of me."
"Thank you so much for submitting your query to BookEnds. While your work sounds intriguing, I'm afraid I just don't think it's for me. I wish you the best of luck."
"Thanks for your query. Unfortunately, I do not feel that I could be the best advocate for your work. Please keep in mind that mine is a subjective business, and an idea or story one agent does not respond to may well be met with great enthusiasm by another, and I encourage you to continue writing to agents. Hopefully you will find someone who will get behind you and your work with the conviction necessary in this very tight market."
"Thank you for thinking of Jellinek & Murray for your novel, SMALL TOWN NEWS. The topic is certainly timely and relevant.We have, however, recently refocused our Agency, sharply curtailing our work with fiction, and must therefore pass, wishing you best of luck elsewhere."
"Not for me--thanks anyway."
Of course, I still have queries out to 11 other literary agents, plus I sent the entire manuscript to a publishing company and I am going to be sending out more queries to publishing companies and literary agents in the next few days. I have heard all the stories about people who strike it rich on their 40th or 50th try. I wonder how many stories are out there about people who never hit the jackpot.
2. I hate moving and sometime in the next couple of weeks, I am going to be making the move to Joplin, at least I will be if I can find a nice, furnished apartment. Already, I know the last few days in my apartment in Carthage are going to be miserable. The landlord rented out the storefront below me. Each of the last three nights, I have had to listen to a group of teenagers practicing their music, complete with amplification and drums until late in the night. In fact, today it was 1 a.m. before they quit. The band is set up right below my bedroom, making it impossible to sleep due to the noise and the vibrations. When they are not playing music, they are busy hammering until all hours.
3. (Three has been removed from this blog.)
4. Oh, enough of this depressing, self-indulgent blog, let's get off this subject and move on to biting social commentary.
I caught part of President Bush's speech on education the other day. I am not a big fan of the president's anyway, but when he talks about teaching young people skills they can use in the job market, he is not talking about any kind of education that will be of use to them by the time they are adults.
We cannot continue to let big business run education. It is not the job of educators to supply ready-made employees for our businesses and industries. We teach them these supposedly necessary skills and by the time they are able to enter the workplace, the skills are either outdated or have been outsourced to foreign countries.
Education cannot be in the business of supplying ready-made employees, but it can be, and should be, in the business of teaching the skills that will enable our young men and women to adapt to whatever challenges they meet in the workplace.
If they have the ability to read, write, express themselves in both written and spoken language, do math, science, and know how to handle the basics of using computers, then they will be able to adapt to the challenges that await them. Just as importantly, they need to know how to participate in this society, how the government works, the importance of voting, and how each person can make his or her mark on society.
The important challenge of educators is to turn out young adults who have the ability to think and respond to whatever life throws at them. The type of paint-by-the-numbers automatons our politicians seem to want is the total antithesis of what this country stands for.
It is also interesting to note that many of the politicians who are making the decisions on how public schools should be operated, would never dream of sending their children to public schools.