Friday, October 14, 2011

Rejected, Discarded, Forgotten

  Have you checked out the blog Forgotten Bookmarks? It's all about the odd things that people leave in secondhand books. If you have ever bought secondhand books, you have probably found some yourself: restaurant menus, newspaper clippings, postcards, notes and annotations. They are little stories in themselves.
  I found a very unfortunate one the other day, while sorting for the monster secondhand book fair. It was in a guide to writing fiction, the book itself inscribed from one female person to another with "Follow your dreams". The insert was a publisher's rejection letter. It seems the would-be author chucked out the book, the letter and her dreams all together. Very sad.
  Have you ever wondered what happened to failed medieval authors? Did they just quietly starve, or get themselves a desk job in the town guild or the chancery? How did you get to be an author anyway, apart from getting yourself locked away for a number of years by your country's enemies in a reasonably comfortable prison with nothing to do? For every Geoffrey Chaucer or Thomas Hoccleve, were there dozens of government scribes whose colleagues ducked out to the privy when they saw them approaching with yet another manuscript in their hands? For every William of Malmesbury or Matthew Paris, were there dozens of monks being ordered to stop scribbling and get to choir immediately? We only have winner's history, even in the literary area.
  Upgrades to the scripts in Medieval Writing have got as far as Gothic bastarda. Sounds promising, but that is only the book scripts.

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