Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Thank You Note

In the name of spring cleaning, I was going through some old papers of mine this weekend that had been collecting in my room, tossing what I didn't need and keeping whatever was left. I cleared out a lot of garbage and came across some real gems. One such gem triggered a spontaneous trip down Memory Lane, way back to my "fresh out of high school" days.

Back in (oh boy, I'm going to date myself here) 1997, White Wolf Publishing boldly announced a Writer All-Call. Anyone who wanted to work for the Wolf and could write using proper English skills was encouraged to send in a cover letter and writing sample, and the best of these would be added to their pool of freelance writers to tap for upcoming game books. It was a golden opportunity for every fan of White Wolf's roleplaying games who had ever read one of their books and thought, "Hey, I could write this sort of stuff for them, why don't they hire me?"

As a young kid with dreams of getting his writing published, I jumped at the challenge. As a fairly recent convert to the World of Darkness at that point, however, I knew I had to do my research so my entry would hold up against the avalanche of submissions they were sure to receive. I decided to gear my entry toward my favorite White Wolf game at the time - Mage: The Ascension - and set up the concept, then purchased any Mage book I needed to make sure the details lined up with what was already established. Following their submission guidelines, I worked up a 3-page writing sample and cover letter and sent it off to White Wolf, hoping to get any sort of reply from them, positive or negative.

Late that October, I got my wish.

When I got the mail and saw the White Wolf emblem on the envelope, my heart just about stopped, then kicked into overdrive as I realized what it signified. My first form letter from a publisher had arrived! I wasted no time - I ran back into the apartment and opened it up to find a letter written (or printed, more accurately) on White Wolf Publishing stationary. I'll spare you the word for word reproduction of the letter and summarize it, instead: "We got your submission. We're impressed by it. You're on The List of Freelance Writers. We'll be in touch when we need you. Congratulations."

Thirteen years later, minus a few months, and I can tell you that they didn't need me - or if they did, I'd moved around so much by that point that they couldn't keep track of the forwarding addresses. It's entirely possible (and very likely) that, among all those new names, I was toward the bottom of that list. After re-reading the submission that I'd sent them, I wouldn't blame them for that one bit. It's a cute writing sample, and it does show that I can use proper English, but you can tell that it was written by someone who had a lot of raw talent but little training to back it up. That's not the point, though. The point is that someone saw the potential in that submission and sent a tangible piece of encouragement back to that kid, encouragement that convinced him that he could do this writing thing and pushed him to continuously hone his skills.

Thank you, White Wolf Publishing, for giving this writer encouragement that he carried with him to the present day. I'm tacking this letter up on the same board that the outline for my trilogy is sprawled across.

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