Letters I Never Sent

Date:  Fri. 13, May 2006

From:  Late But Soon

Subj:  Something to consider

Dear New York Times Book Review Editors:

After reading your review of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, I am compelled to ask the question:  How could it be that all of these fancy Harvard Business School graduates, who are writing books on management techniques for increasing employee productivity and keeping them happy at their jobs, have missed the obvious connection between smoking crack and increased productivity?

Sometimes an on-site Starbucks or a Jamba Juice franchise (with extra energy shots!) just isn’t enough.  Someone should look into this.

Not productive, personally,

L. B. Soon


Date:  Mon. 22, Oct. 2007

From:  L. But Soon

Subj:  Your 4-page photo spread of the magnificent fall foliage this year

Dear Asbury Park Press Weekend Features Editor:

This is just a suggestion.  Perhaps next fall the photo essay could be in color.


L. B. Soon


Date:  Fri. 13, Feb. 2008

From:  Late B. Soon

Subj:  Comments on my short story I’ve received from my creative-writing classmates

Dear fellow writers:

I know it is part of the creative process to critique each others’ writing efforts, but it was my understanding that the criticism was to be constructive and thereby helpful to a fledgling writer.  After reading some of your comments I can’t help but think you did not care for my piece.  A sampling of your comments shows why I surmise this:

“A hackneyed, amateurish miscarriage of a story.”

“You have managed to coldly torture the English language for 3 ½ pages.  Congratulations.”

“Your embarrassingly ineffectual and flaccid prose made me uncomfortable.”

“This smugly written tripe is an affront to the craft of writing and fails to meet even the most generous definition of adequacy.”

“Truly abysmal.  Maybe singularly so.”

From Conor:  “You had some nice details.”  (Thank you, Conor.  I liked your story, too.)

Thanks to all of you (except Conor) for crushing my soul,

L. But Soon


[This next letter was written in a fit of pique after a certain humor writing website failed to publish any of my submissions.  My writing always improves when I am angry.]

Date:  Thurs. 9, Oct. 2009

From:  Don’t Worry About It

Subj:  I think I’ve figured out how to get published on your website

Dear Editor of ——— Website (because why should I give you bastards any free publicity?):

Not that I think that there is anything formulaic about some people’s (repeated) success in getting published on your website, but I have a hunch it takes something like this:

  1. Thinly veiled self-referential inside joke; zany take on previous story you printed.
  2. Slavish fawning and literary pretensions.
  3. Desperate metaphor pertaining to a personal observation.
  4. Irony (obviously!).
  5. Irony must be of the “postmodern” type (i.e., not easily understandable to most people; usually necessitating the use of “irony” quotes.)
  6. Subject must be of passing interest to hipsters.
  7. No mention of menopause whatsoever.
  8. Cloying catchphrase.
  9. Cute closing.
  10. Obligatory post script with one last riposte. 

It also seems to help if you have previously been published elsewhere, or have some kind of annoying, self-referential blog.  (Obviously, I have taken care of this requirement.)

Very truly deeply,

I TOLD YOU Not to Worry About It

P.S. Unnecessary witticism