The One Thing I’d Rather Forget: an Open Apology Letter

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My writing career began roughly fifteen years ago.

Fifteen years–that’s a very long time, isn’t it? Certainly long enough for me to commit some very embarrassing writing moments. There should be something; a very over-the-top acknowledgements, crappy novel chapter, or a page from a diary.

But when I sat down and pondered which embarrassing moment should I put into writings, I was at complete loss.

It’s not that I have no embarrassing moments–that couldn’t be further than the truth. In fact, I have so many things I’d rather bury in my past that it’s gotten too embarrassing to share anywhere. I could name a few: writing a formal complaint letter to a very much innocent teacher, having so many grammatical and spelling errors on my first novel….

But if there was something that I really want to forget, and still haunt me to this day, whenever I recall the moment, it’s absolutely this one.

In 2010, I had conversed with this writer on Twitter.

The conversation itself was harmless. She had asked me to review her manuscript, and being short of reading materials, I volunteered.

The following events were straightforward. She sent me her manuscript, I opened the file and read it. She did say that she intended to self-publish the book, so I thought it was natural for her to need a lot of positive criticism and feedback.

But no matter how I tried, I couldn’t like the book.

A good friend of mine swore that the manuscript was one of the best unfinished novels he had ever read. But I couldn’t give the same praise–the book just wasn’t for me.

So, being the smartass I once was, I wrote a reply via email, commenting her manuscript which I didn’t like.

Hey, I read your manuscript. I’m sorry but I have to say this is one of the most boring manuscripts I’ve ever read. Have you outlined your novel? It felt like every scenes were just walking further and further from the premise. Maybe try and reread your manuscript before submitting it to beta readers next time? You have a long way to go before getting published.

Now let that paragraph sink in.

In 2010, I wasn’t even a published author. But I dared to write a very better-than-thou comment to this aspiring author, even going so much as to say that she had a long way to go before getting published. It was condescending, to say the least. Utterly humiliating for her, I suppose.

Imagine how surprised I was when I googled her name out of curiosity a few days later, and found out that she had been a published author for 2 years, with more than 3 books on the market!

I couldn’t bring myself to apologize to her, even to this day. My pride just wouldn’t let me do that, and I know that it’s wrong. I really should apologize. That’s the most sensible thing to do, and in hopes of being a slightly better human being, that’s what I’m intending this post to be about: an apology letter.

I had suggested this idea to my friend, Maryah Stevens, who wrote her own apology letter to the same Wordbount prompt. Part of the reason of me suggesting this was because I, too, owe some apologies to someone.

Here is my open apology letter, so that everyone can read this. So that everyone who reads this post would not make the same mistake as I did:

Dear A,

I’m terribly sorry for saying those hurtful words. It made me realize how immature I was when I found out you had been far more experienced than me. That you was a published author all along, and I was just an aspiring author with a mind smaller than most people. I had completely thought I was better than you, but clearly I was wrong.

I really have a lot to learn if I still treat fellow writers condescendingly. I know you took my unfair criticism very humbly, and I know you didn’t look like you were hurt the slightest. But please allow me to apologize.

I am sorry. I truly am.

Sincerely yours,

Alicia

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