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The Man I Didn’t Mention

December 22, 2005 by in category Blogs tagged as with 2 and 0
Home > Writing > Blogs > The Man I Didn’t Mention

By Geralyn Ruane

His name is Bruce, and I didn’t thank him. This past Saturday I received a white rose at OCC because a short story of mine has been accepted for publication. At the podium, I thanked every member of OCC and I thanked my fiancé Ron who sat in the front row and took my picture. But I did not mention Bruce Kluger.

I could not have done it without Bruce, yet I don’t much about him – he has red hair, wrote for Playboy and used to like the Baltimore Colts. But without a doubt, our brief encounter put a spark in my life that wasn’t there before.
Bruce is the editorial assistant for Marlo Thomas, the woman who is publishing my story in her book.

Here’s what happened:
Marlo Thomas is publishing a book of personal short stories called The Right Words at the Right Time, Volume 2. She was accepting submissions for stories about love and romance up until November 15. I sent in my story “Jane Austen Meets the New York Giants” by e-mail on that Tuesday evening just before midnight New York time. Wednesday morning I got a call from a really nice guy who introduced himself as Bruce Kluger, who worked for Marlo Thomas. He said he really liked my story. Then he said “Unfortunately . . .”

AHHHHH! What, was he just calling to say “Nice try kiddo?” Had I missed the deadline? You mean this wasn’t THE CALL? But I continued listening, as lifeless as a deflated balloon in the gutter.

Unfortunately, he said, my story read too much like a short story, and it needed to read more like a personal essay. Could I re-shape it without losing any of the feeling of the story? I could have until the end of the week. He said he couldn’t even begin to tell me how to go about making such a change, but did I think I could do it? Bruce did offer to help me out by sending me a few of the essays that had already been accepted for publication in the book so I could see what he meant. I hung up the phone with the warm and fuzzy feeling that he wanted me to succeed.

But once I received the essays I was worried. I figured that most of my dialogue had to go – but that was the heartbeat of the story. Yikes! So, I tried to make it more essay-like but I kept a tiny bit of the dialogue. Too much? Too little? Not essay-like enough? I sent off my best effort Thursday afternoon. Bruce e-mailed me Thursday evening. He said he loved what I did, but he’d made some changes – he said he put back in some of his favorite things that I had cut. He put back in the dialogue! I was so happy. He made a few other changes, making it more accessible to those who haven’t memorized Pride and Prejudice. His changes were minimal and beautiful, and he did not step on my toes one little bit. He also wrote that he wanted to make sure Marlo liked it when he sent it to her on Friday. I TOTALLY felt like he was in my corner.

But I did not hear anything Friday morning. Oh, no – Marlo must have hated it! Late Friday afternoon, my fiancé Ron came to pick me up from work. I got in the car and he handed me his cell phone. Bruce had called earlier but hadn’t told Ron the verdict. I dialed. Bruce answered – I was in!!!!!

In fact, when Bruce had called earlier, he and Ron had talked about football for a while then he told Ron the good news but told Ron not to tell me. Ron played his part to perfection and it was indeed Bruce who told me I was published. He said Marlo Thomas’ immediate response to my story had been “Excellent.” I wondered why I hadn’t heard earlier in the day if this response had been so immediate. Then Bruce told me that Marlo Thomas wanted to end the story two paragraphs earlier than I had ended it. Bruce had spent the day fighting for my two paragraphs – he had gone to bat for me. As it turns out, Marlo’s cut made the story even better.

No, Virginia, I don’t think there is a Santa Claus, but there are people out there like Bruce Kluger who are even better. I have been a member of OCC for two and a half years, and I have heard some horror stories about the people in the publishing industry. Were any of you at the Dean Koontz meeting? As a best-selling author, he’s accumulated a bunch of shocking stories about how he’s been treated – AND HE’S DEAN KOONTZ! If a best-selling author can get knocked around, what chance do any of us have? So, sometimes, things can seem pretty dismal, and that maybe things suck over on the published side of the fence. But then there are people are out there like Bruce Kluger and Marlo Thomas. People who respect writing and writers, people who are a joy to work with. Maybe I’m being naïve. Maybe I lucked out. But this much I’m sure of – thanks to Bruce, and the knowledge that people like him exist, I’m not scared anymore.

By Geralyn Ruane
Author of “Jane Austen Meets the New York Giants”
in Marlo Thomas’ book THE RIGHT WORDS AT THE RIGHT TIME, Vol. 2, April 2006

2 Comments

  • Anonymous
    on January 5, 2006

    Kudos to Bruce! It is always a treat to hear about someone in the industry with a positive and uplifting influence on a writer’s career. And, at the risk of sounding cliche, it could not have happened to a nicer person, Geralyn. Congrats on this first-time publication.

  • Anonymous
    on January 4, 2006

    Having had the privilege of reading Geralyn’s first draft, I can certainly understand why Bruce decided to publish her submission. Geralyn’s breezy style is underlaid with a casual charm, humor and unexpected poignancy that is utterly engaging and timeless. I can’t wait for the book to come out.

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