Don’t let door hit you in the ass on the way out, David Gilmour

Author apologizes for comments about female writers |

I wasn’t going to post today in favour of getting other work done, but this was too good to pass up. Remember when David Gilmour showed his toxic, bigoted plumage to a younger Emily Keeler and things went nuts for a bit? Pre-#MeToo, pre-open letter, pre-“cancel culture”. He said some questionable things that led to more questionable things that slowly revealed he’d made a life of saying questionable things. But after a while it died down and nothing seemed to happen. Well, something has happened. Mr. Gilmour has been fired. Of course, he seems to have accepted this with the grace and dignity only an old White guy experiencing the first big consequence of his life can muster:

Both David Gilmour and Victoria College declined to comment on what the three students from Gilmour’s 2020–2021 class told The Strand. Victoria University spokesperson Liz Taylor Surani stated that “the University cannot discuss or investigate anonymous allegations that were not sent directly to the University.” The Strand did receive an unsolicited email from someone, describing themself as a colleague of Gilmour’s, who praised his teaching style and emphasized his professional accolades. However, this communication did not specifically address any of the incidents reported here. When The Strand followed up with Gilmour about the incident in his 2010–2011 Vic One class, Gilmour replied, “Here’s a quote. ‘Fuck you’ en plus ‘I have been alive too long, endured too many assholes, to be intimidated by a fuck-wit like you guys.’ Am I making myself clear?’”

Victoria College declined to comment on a number of other questions raised by The Strand. These included: whether the College took any internal action against Gilmour in light of his 2013 comments and why Gilmour remained employed at the College after making his 2013 comments. Victoria University’s spokesperson and Principal Esterhammer also declined to comment on Gilmour’s status as an employee. In an email to The Strand, Surani stated that “Victoria University cannot discuss HR-related matters as these are strictly confidential.” 

Gilmour, however, did provide his perspective on his departure from the Creative Expression and Society program. “I got the boot, that’s how I left Vic,” wrote Gilmour in an email to The Strand. “That skinny, humourless little bitch, [Vic Administrator], never much liked me—and vice versa—and got rid of me as soon as she could decently do so unlike the great guys who hired me, Prof. Paul Gooch and Prof. Cook, who gave me a life-changing experience. Lord, I loved teaching there under their guidance.”


On mistakes in print

The worst mistake of computer science - Lucidchart

You know how it goes: you proof your book, your editor proofs it. Hell, you worked on the content together, sometimes combing down to the level of the word. Then the copy editor gets it. Then the proof reader. You probably had a spouse or friend or two look at it as well. Good to go. Thumbs up all around. Then the book arrives, you flip to a random page (probably to huff the gutter like a line of serotonin-based coke), and there it is. GLARING. A mistake. Then another. And another. I usually find about three per book in total. And I’m only working with a few thousand words in a poetry book. Novelists must find tons. Anyway, I’ve been lucky enough to have a few books go into multiple prints, but most books don’t. So that mistake is there. Your legacy. The scholars of the future, pondering over it. Pouring over your text that’s become central to the foundation of a post-apocalyptic belief system designed to harvest wisdom from the past to protect the future. Except, there’s this major fuck up and society falls apart again. Because of you. (Come on, you know you dream about shit like that, you egotistical bastard. You don’t have to lie to me. You’re among friends here.) Get used to it. No one cares anyway.

Any mistake is humiliating. It seems that it’s always too late to fix them, because we don’t know they exist until they’re in print. For the rest of my life, every time I walk through a used bookstore and see that book, I’ll know that the mistake is still in it. I’ll want someone to buy it, but know that if they do, I will be caught again. The next email is coming. And worse, the next error is probably already lurking somewhere in the manuscript I’m writing now.

The writer isn’t even always the source of the error. One of the most famous mistakes occurs in Melville’s Moby-Dick. A typesetter misread the words “coiled fish of the sea” as “soiled fish of the sea.” Nearly a century later a highly respected critic published an essay pointing out the brilliance of the choice of the word “soiled.” This was actually one of the events that prompted the founding of the Center for Editions of American Authors, an institution which gives a writer reason to hope that if he gets good enough, after he’s dead some professor will fix all of his mistakes in a scholarly edition. The Center adopted methods like reading a text aloud backwards while a listener followed along in a second copy, which seems to have caught mistakes, but must have driven both scholars mad while they did it.

Tuesday newsday

On rejection

Having grown up an egregiously nerdy, loud-mouthed, bespectacled, overly-freckled, bright-orange-headed-ginger, rejection has been part of my life for a long time.

Seriously though, this is probably why it doesn’t bug me. I mean, no one LIKES being rejected, but any ill feelings I might have after getting the notice are gone about an hour later. Why? Because I’ve been on both sides of that letter.

Sometimes, no one gave your piece a second thought and your rejection is nothing more than a testament to how overworked and undermotivated many people working in arts admin are. (I once received a rejection slip with one word on it: “Nope.” Classy.) Other times, it got squeezed out by either better work or work that was more to the editors’ tastes. (I’ve had a few award judges over time tell me I missed the shortlist by a hair’s breadth.) Either way, there’s nothing you can do about it, so you might as well get working again.

Sadly, this same rejection acceptance super power I have extends to acceptances as well. The enjoyment of approbation lasts about an hour and then we’re back to this… the work.

So, long story short: don’t get into this biz for the glamour, kids. \

(You know what’s frankly worse than rejection? Silence. Don’t follow? You’ll find out.)

There’s a fairly wide gap between what I expected as a preposterous young man and the writing life as I’ve lived it. I’m old enough to see how disillusionment is the price for adulthood in every vocation, not just writing and the arts. Yet, one facet of my writing life still surprises me with its wicked gleam. Once, I believed as a writer my most important skill would be knowing how to lay words in a line that’s solid as a cut stone wall. Nope. Turns out the most important skill for me as a writer, the skill I can’t live without, and the one that took the longest to learn, is a skill for failure.