You’ve got mail…from a bear.

One of the delights of editing the literature section of LeftLion is the random emails you get. This can be anything from an angry publisher with regards to a review (particularly when Katie Half-Price is concerned) or a novice writer learning their trade. Sometimes it can be from bears. Here’s two of my favourites from this year…

Context: A bear with poetic musings…

Hello, I like to write short stories about bears and I was wondering if you’d like to publish some of them? Here are three by way of example. If you want any more you’ll have to pay me in honey. 1. A small bear was trying to reverse park her car. She got confused and ended up pushing it into a cave for safe keeping 2. Bernie drank too much coffee in the morning and ending climbing too high in his tree. He got scared and Malcolm had to help him down. 3. Brandon was cleaning his windows. The fur on his back was a very effective shammy.

James, I plan to start hibernating for winter in late September so I hope to hear from you before then.


Mr Bear.

Mr Bear,

I think it would be better if you hibernated for a very long time so that you are able to properly nurture that talent. What exactly is it you want? Other than honey…


Hi James,

I’d like you to publish my stores in your paper. Do you not like them?

I thought a peice called “10 short stories about bears” would be a

real page turner for you humans.

I’d appreciate your feedback but warn you that I can get quite angry.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just in my nature.


Mr Bear.

Mr Bear,

You’ve spelled ‘piece’ wrong. I hope that you’re not that sloppy with the rest of your writing. Perhaps it’s those big hairy paws. Send me a story through and I’ll read it, although it would need to be slightly longer than your first drafts.



P.S You’ve spelled stories wrong as well.

Verdict: I suspect that these emails could go on forever so I’ll have to draw a line at some point. But at the moment he has my interest. The key now is to actually deliver something before I lose my patience or don’t have time to indulge him. But, I like to be pestered by oddballs every now and then. (That isn’t an invitation – see email number two)


Context: Self-published poet asked me to buy his book from Amazon to review it. I explained the etiquette of submitting reviews.

Hi James,

I can’t help but think you’re a bit of a cock for that email. Your attempts to sound seasoned and mature only make you sound like a rotting sequela of youth. You work for Left Lion, maybe keep that in mind the next time you attempt to climb to shit.


Hi Poet,

I took the time to respond to your email when 99% of people would simply have deleted it due to high workloads. I also offered you some good practical honest advice when I didn’t have to. If you decide to insult an editor on a magazine again (thereby guaranteeing you will never be published in it, even one as ‘insignificant’ as Leftlion), at least take the time to ensure that your insult is either witty or logical. I’m not entirely sure what ‘climb to shit’ means but I shall certainly bear it in mind next time I’m confronted by a very high step leading to a toilet.



Verdict: I find a lot of self-published writers find it difficult to take criticism or advice. Best to end this correspondence quickly as it just becomes a slagging match which doesn’t really help anyone

Phone Alone

Three years ago I left my mobile phone charger in a B&B on the Scilly Isles. A replacement charger was £12 so instead I bought a new phone from Asda for a fiver. It has been a constant source of amusement and mockery ever since. Why? Because it doesn’t have the internet and it can only hold a maximum of ten text messages. It also has a personality of its own and regularly switches itself off if I’ve been talking for more than five minutes. This does have its benefits but it can also cause unnecessary offence. It might have something to do with the four cracks on the screen.

The phone was purchased for its functional rather than aesthetical qualities. It had this amazing app that meant I could call people up. Joking aside, I wanted a crap phone because I didn’t want to become one of those wizards you see at bus stops swiping across their screen as they scroll through pages, creating the impression they’re casting magical spells. A crap phone meant instead of getting weighed down and distracted by emails and surfing I would do more productive things such as read, think or listen in on conversations: There are some great conversations on Nottingham bus journeys.

Yesterday I decided it was time for an upgrade. Orange, my provider, said I had to see out my contract which finishes in December. I explained very patiently that I was currently paying £7 a month and I would like to give them more money. It took a long, long time but eventually I was able to convince someone that this was a good move for their business.

I’ve been fending off this moment for yonks but finally succumbed for the following reasons: 1. I need a camera so that I can take photographs at events I’m reviewing. I’m sick of trawling through the web for accompanying images or having to rely on people to email stuff over which is always late and means I miss deadlines. 2. It has an inbuilt Dictaphone so next time I bump into someone of interest I can do an interview there and then. 3. The Space. How on earth can I possibly edit together a multimedia project and check content is working across platforms when I don’t even have the device the project is trying to target!

Although I’m sure that having the option of an electronic diary will be useful, I think I’ll stick to the one pound page-a-day diaries because I love flicking through these every now and then and seeing what I was up to. I’m sure that once I get the phone tomorrow I’ll quickly be converted to all of the gadgetry and gimmicks but I’m hoping I’ll have the willpower to resist. Those listened-in conversations on buses are priceless….