I was in a hurry. Canada Post threatened strike action so I sent the story to you – with a witty cover letter – by courier without addressing you by name. Afterwards, dear editor, I bought your magazine in the local bookstore and there was your name on the right hand side of page five, at the top of the sidebar. But why, oh why, dear editor, couldn’t I find it on the magazine’s website?
Canada Post didn’t strike, but now my story sits on your desk in limbo, dear editor. I feel for the poor posties – the whole bread and roses thing – I get it. Everyone wants “…a sharing of life’s glories.” They’re about to become obsolete those door-to-door donkeys with their hip bruising cross-body saddle bags. And what about the inside postal workers – do they even exist anymore? Maybe it’s just a bunch of robotic arms sifting through the small pile of postcards and bills and ad mail, clawed metal fingers passing them by an electronic eye, scanning the postal codes.
But I was in a rush and your website, beautifully garlanded with admirable writers who no doubt know you personally, did not include your name or the names of any of your staff. I bet a robot would have passed you by knowing there was no point in sending it in without your name. I, however, am only human.
Is it too late to ask for my story back? I’ll send you the self-addressed stamped envelope. I’d rather not wait the requisite three to six months for the rejection and, more importantly, I’d rather not waste your time. I wonder, though, is there an artificial intelligence (AI) coming soon to do the job of editor?
I read that an AI program co-produced a novella that made it through the first round of a literary competition. Believable characters were written by a robot, the kind of characters that get under your big toenail like that dot of dirt in the corner that won’t come out. I bet the robot scoured the World Wide Web for contest judge names before sending in its entry, dear editor. So smart.
We are being chased, dear editor, our feet seemingly anchored with lead shot. Behind us runs a shiny silver being, clearly articulated joints pumping, lubricated limbs silently keeping pace, and soon I fear it will pass us both with its flawlessly arced narrative. (When did story become narrative and when did climax become arc and would an AI writer even quibble about this?) AI has no need for bread and roses, does it? Just a drop of WD40 and a speed-of-light microchip with the brains of Margaret Atwood and Albert Einstein and Alan Turing.
Dear editor, I’m embarrassed. A self-addressed stamped envelope is enclosed. Please return my story and let’s forget this happened.