Elena’s letter to ‘Elizabeth’

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December 1, 2022

Dearest ‘Elizabeth’,

My congratulations on your recent promotion as senior editor in your father’s publishing house. I read about your promotion on the internet. I had expected your advancement, knowing that you have likely inherited some of your father’s wonderful commitment to publishing all that is ‘fit to print’.

I also want to send well wishes to your father, who, if I have understood correctly, is still recovering from long Covid. Hopefully he will soon be in good health and spirit and can return to the work I know he truly loves to do.

I also want to pass on my condolences to you, your friend ‘Samantha’ and to your father for the death the sheriff. I recently heard the sheriff had died from Covid this past spring. I am exceptionally sorry to hear this. He was a wonderful and charming gentleman, with a keen sense of judgement. Hopefully his hometown has found someone suitable to take his place. And hopefully ‘Samantha’ and your father have managed to properly grieve his passing.

I write to you about my diary, which I imagine you have been managing since your father’s harrowing Covid infection in December 2020. I know that during the year 2020, despite Covid lockdowns (or perhaps due to the lockdowns, with people finding some quiet time on their hands) your father made the exquisite effort to have my parchments translated and readied for publication. This was my primary reason to give my diary to your publishing house in late 2019. I knew your father had the right contacts and consultants to handle the effort in an exceptional manner. However, since that marvelous work, I note the publication has been delayed.

Given some of the explicit content in my diary, I imagined that your father might publish my diary under one of your subsidiary publishing houses, to avoid negative feedback from the general public and controversy with your shareholders. I had imagined he might also use this strategy given the unique nature of my diary (it does not neatly fit into any contemporary genre) and my wish to maintain some distance from the general public. Publishing through one of your subsidiaries would have resulted in a smaller debut audience for my diary, but I knew that even through one of your niche publishing houses, my work would still reach a wider audience than if I had attempted to publish it myself.

Then your merger happened in early 2021, and I guess this event, more than anything, has been the source of further delay in releasing my diary. I imagine that from early 2021 to early 2022, there has been some company restructuring, staff lay-offs and other attempts to curtail costs as part of the merger agreement. By now, I imagine that this restructuring has settled down and that business is generally proceeding smoothly and profitably.

So the continued delay in publishing my diary is most likely due to concerns about the explicit content. I imagine the management and legal team of your new umbrella company have raised concerns about such content. Perhaps your umbrella company wishes to ‘play it safe’ and avoid controversy or any potential legal problems, either from someone impersonating me, or from readers or from shareholders who might find some of the content of my diary too explicit. It may also be that your parent company is asking that you focus your efforts only on material which your marketing and research departments indicates is a ‘sure bet’. And since I too have not made myself available, your management might consider this whole project to be some kind of a prank.

I would probably maintain this same attitude if I were in their place.

So I write to you to let you know the following five points:

1) I intend to make myself available, but only to you. I have enclosed an email address you can use to contact me. I normally respond within 24 hours or less. ‘Samantha’ can also write to me, through you. You and ‘Samantha’ will probably want to meet me as well. I am open to that.

2) I am still keenly interested to see my work released. It is a shame that all of your father’s efforts to get the parchments translated and prepared for publication remains stymied. And given that your staff has already made such efforts, it seems logical to me that your publishing house should complete the effort.

3) I may have found a solution palatable to your management, one that you probably have already considered but did not know if I would accept.

I have seen in the past twenty years the phenomena of online blogging. More recently, there has arisen a positive trend to serialize content in online blogs and newsletters. Many of these blogs, newsletters and magazines include a subscription service that may allow you to recuperate expenses within one or two years.

Perhaps this format can be a suitable way to release my work. It would allow you the ability to release the work anonymously and quite inexpensively. Your company would only need to finance an internet domain, a small website and one or two members of your staff could release my work in serial form, perhaps four or five chapters a week. I imagine you have run out of funds for my project since it has remained ‘on your books’ for several years. So I enclose with this package $40,000 to help with any debts you may have incurred over the past several years to work on my project and to help with future expenses for your staff to set up and maintain an online newsletter for a year or so. Hopefully by then it will have acquired enough members to start paying for itself.

I hope this provides a palatable solution for your company. I am perfectly at peace with such a solution since it seems that online serial publications are the way of the future. And we also save some trees in the process, which is always a good thing. However, this also means that the debut audience of my diary will be no larger than if I had published it myself. Alas, such are the comical and curious circumstances of the human condition.

Continuing with the points:

4) The online newsletter format allows the three parts of my diary to be published serially as you best see fit. By this I mean you have the freedom to post a chapter of Part 1 one week, a story from Part 3 the following week, a chapter from Part 2 the week after. The fictions and poems in Part 3 need not follow any particular order. Only Part 1 and some chapters of Part 2 need to be published sequentially.

5) Finally and most importantly, this online format allows me to suggest a Part 4 to my diary, in lieu of the addendum of my disparate essays and writings. I say Part 4 because the nature of an online subscription newsletter lends itself to encouraging readers to submit their own essays to add to Part 4, as a way to stimulate readership and more importantly to stimulate active conversation among members of the newsletter.

This Part 4, more than anything, is why I not only recommend the online newsletter format, but strongly insist on it. The idea that Women and others, young and old, might engage in conversations and essay-writing to expound on topics they feel are important is magnificent. It could be a wonderful way for my diary to grow into a small library of writings by and for all, an idea that has been very close to my heart for centuries.

Perhaps together- you, ‘Samantha’, your staff and myself- with enough water and fertilizer, we might coax this little seed into a nice sunflower. And if others find our sunflower in the endless fields of flowers on the internet, perhaps our sunflower can eventually become a field of sunflowers.

Lastly, I want to apologize if my diary has caused strife between yourself, your father, your staff and your new management. I know your father is a passionate man, and my intuition tells me you probably have inherited such a characteristic. In any case, whatever impassioned discussions may have occurred, hopefully what I propose above can be an acceptable publishing solution for all involved.

I want to acknowledge that perhaps I should have written to you earlier. But I did not want to disturb you during such hectic and personally distressing times. My choice to write to you now was spurred by two events: (1) your promotion, and (2) my acceptance of the online newsletter format for my diary, with Part 4 providing the option for future ongoing conversations. It took me some time to get used to the idea of the online newsletter because I realized we would have to encourage audience participation in altogether different ways. But now I feel it is an even better solution than the standard book format, especially since so many young people are ‘going digital’. And the ability to share text and links even through social media seems a promising way to further ‘spread the word’.

Please feel free to email me any time. I imagine you will want to have my input on the visual style of the website and online newsletter pages. I can provide sketches if so desired. When my diary was to be published as a book, I had decided against including sketches to simplify your formatting work. But with the online newsletter format, including sketches and images should be easier, and perhaps may even be desirable.

Since this online project will necessarily have to be a collaborative effort, I do not mind to review things with you and ‘Samantha’, so long as discretion is strictly maintained. As you may understand, it is very important for me to maintain my privacy, given my unusual biological condition.

As before, for “full disclosure”, if I can ask that we include any correspondence you think relevant.

Graciously yours and with infinite thanks:

Elena Eleadi