Sunday, August 09, 2009

Adventures in Being Edited

Rearranging some boxes in the study recently, I came upon some men's mag with a few of my stories in 'em. It'd been since some time since I'd cracked the pages of one of these disreputable li'l periodicals, so I grabbed the March '95 ish of Plumpers and Big Women, which featured one of my restaurant stories, "Consuming Interests." I remembered being dissatisfied with the tale (retitled "Consuming Love" for its print appearance), though I couldn't recall what the big issue was.

Once I got into it, I remember, though. Plumpers' editors were more hands-on than a lotta men's mag overseers, and they made some half-assed changes that I as the writer found maddening. First came in the story's opening. "Consuming" is about a girl, Tammy Tantalus, who inherits a bunch of Italian restaurants from her uncle after he's shot to death by a jealous husband. In the opening paragraph, the editors changed the motive behind his murder, making Uncle Dom the victim of a gangland shooting spurred by unpaid gambling debts. Problem with this revision is they didn't keep it consistent throughout the story: a later joking reference to that cuckolded killer was kept in the text.

Even more irritating, the editors cut "Consuming" off after its climactic sex scene, slicing off character details that I rather liked and a decent weight gain postscript. The basic story is about a Machiavellian maitre-d who schemes to get the health food conscious heiress addicted to her restaurants' offerings so she won't initiate any big changes in their menus. As she grows, the maitre-d's attraction for Tammy similarly grows, and as part of the reveal, I made it clear that Tammy is not the innocent her scheming feeder believes her to be.

But this little detail was left off the tale. Instead, we end with the two post-coitus, with a jowly Tammy smiling up at her lover and saying, "I guess this is a very happy ending!" Well, not really, I thought, when I received my contributor's copy of PBW in the mail. Fortunately, in the intervening years, the Internet has afforded me the opportunity to post what Paul Harvey would've called the Rest of the Story, so I guess I can't grouse too much. . .