Of all the pitches and submissions we receive at The Toast every week, I’d guess that about eighty percent or so are from women. Of those, I’d guess about half are from first-time writers. Of those, I’d guess about half begin with an apology for not pitching properly or having a half-formed idea or for existing in the first place.
Which means that every week, a lot of women apologize to me for wanting to write.
And it’s such a shame, because the pitches we get are wonderful — tremendous — bizarre –funny — and not at all something to apologize over. Sometimes I get a story or an idea that isn’t quite right for us, but even then I love getting to hear from readers and I’m always, always happy to read about something that matters to you.
You are not, and your thoughts are not, and your words are not, an imposition.
This is not, I should point out, a directive to “just stop apologizing.” Sometimes it’s just a filler phrase, or a way of acknowledging a certain sense of awkwardness or insecurity, and if you’re apologizing about your writing before I’ve even gotten the chance to read it, the very last thing I want is to make you feel worse about how you’ve gone about pitching it. But for those of you who are writing professionally or publicly for the first time, or thinking about maybe possibly someday doing it after a few drinks, I would like you to know that you are never wasting my time, you are never bothering me, and you are worth hearing from, very much.
This is rapidly growing maudlin, so let’s move on to the fun part.
I also get pitches from a not-insignificant number of straight white men,* and while I love you all enormously and will allow many of you to live after the revolution, you really ought to be picking up the women’s slack in the apology department. Sometimes you even send me pitches about a subject after I’ve specifically asked only to hear from women. Sometimes — my boys, my pets, my darlings, my ickle eensy tiny poppets — you begin your pitches with “I know you asked to hear from women/women of color/LGBT women/literally anyone in the world but me just this one time, but…” My sweet little twitching angels, such behavior merits a sincere apology.
And apologize they did, after I put the situation to them, like good boys. Here are some of their apologies, for your benefit. May your bones draw strength from the vulnerability of men.
At this point I began to feel dangerously powerful.
Still the apologies came.
The sense of power grew, as if I were wearing a tiara of brambles and apologies, sitting and laughing on a writhing throne of murmuring male regret, gloriously alone.
Men, you are absolved. Go in peace, to love and serve The Toast.
*I hear from non-straight, non-white, non-cis men too, but you gentlemen have all been terrific. Keep doing exactly what you’re doing.
Images by Matt Lubchansky, who makes comics and occasionally leaves his apartment in New York. His work includes Please Listen to Me and New Amsterdam Mystery Company. He’s on Twitter, and doesn’t expect you to get his name right.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.