Chutzpah Gets a Writer Published
By Richard F.X. O’Connor
I was introduced to my favorite fishing hole by a publishing "connection." The spot is Tim Pond Wilderness Camps in a remote area of northwestern Maine, where dry fly fishing for trout is the order of the day.
In the late 60s, Thomas Gardner Paynter, the VP and buyer for Walden was introduced to the camp by Bob Quinn, a salesman for Rand McNally who invited Tom and the buyer at Woolworth to a few days of fishing. Back then the Rand McNally Atlas sold well at Walden and Woolworth.
In 1972 Tom (TGP to us) brought me and a bunch of others to Tim Pond—and my life was changed forever. Until that time I had been a fresh- and saltwater fisherman. But this world of seven and eight foot lightweight fly rods—with the line 20 and 30 feet in the air, zipping past my ear, to land precisely where I had seen a trout jump—was an epiphany. I had found the Nirvana of fishing.
Naturally I wanted to share this out-of-the-way "haunt" with others, so I wrote an inquiry letter to Field and Stream magazine.
In essence what my query letter said was: "Hey, I love this place and I’m going to write an article whether or not you guys are I interested. So there."
Lo and behold, I got a letter back from the Managing Editor who assigned me a reference number and told me to submit whenever the article was ready.
Two years and two IRS deductible trips to Tim Pond later (research for an article, after all), I not only sent a 2,500-word article but also photos, hoping to get a cover photo, which paid more than the article. F&S then lost the submission, which I found out by asking its progress six months later.
Well, I guilted them and resubmitted and was given a date when the article would appear. Near pub date, I got a call saying that F&S had subsequently done market research showing that shorter articles were better and if I would cut it to 750 words plus two sidebars it would run in the next issue. This was on a Friday and the deadline was the following Monday. I did it and the article ran. And it’s the most treasured of my writing accomplishments…an example of what a little chutzpah will do.
While I don’t recommend that approach to writers, it remains an example of the advice to write about that which you know, the wedding of my private passion with my ability to string sentences together.
The postscript to the story is that I own a copy of a Rand McNally Atlas that does not show Tim Pond on a Maine map. Seems the late Bob Quinn was not as keen as I to have notoriety for our haunt, so he had the cartographers at Rand remove it. It was subsequently reinstated. In thirty years, I was lucky enough to do battle with the elusive square-tailed trout on 25 visits, which left me with the wisdom that trout are smarter than humans.
—Richard F X. O'Connor is the published author of seven books including the best selling "How To Make Your Man More Sensitive" (E.P. Dutton/ Fawcett) and "Ident-A-Kid" (S&S). His self-published work is "How to Market You and Your Book." His writers’ Web site is http://www.richardfxoconnor.com.