My Accidentally Inappropriate Email

By Diane Stark

I’ve been a freelance writer for the past 12 years. I love my job and the editors I’m currently working for. But I’m also always looking for new magazines to write for too.

Because I’m the mom in a blended family, I’m always trying to use that experience to help other women in the same situation. I had a great idea for a magazine article that would help moms in blended families have a better intimate relationship with their husbands. I wrote a query letter, which is just an email that described my idea, and sent it to a Christian marriage magazine. I’d never written for the magazine before, but I really, really wanted to. I was positively thrilled when the editor wrote back, expressing interest in the idea and asking to see the article.

I hit what I thought was the forward button and typed the following message to my husband: “Hi Sweetheart! This article idea was accepted, and now I’m going to need your help with the research for the article. This is my first story for this magazine, so I want it to be perfect. So we’re going to need to do a LOT of research, but I’m sure you won’t mind! Love you Babe!”

I hit send and then did a happy dance that my idea was accepted.

Seconds later, I stopped happy dancing. I realized that I had not, in fact, hit the forward button, but the reply. My mouth gaped as I realized that I had just sent a very inappropriate email to an editor I’d never worked with before.

And now, clearly, I never would.

I freaked out and then composed the following apology: “I am so sorry for the extremely unprofessional email I just sent you. It was supposed to go to my husband, but I inadvertently sent it to you. I have never been more embarrassed in my life. I promise I am a professional (and not a flake!) and if you’ll give me another chance, my behavior will exhibit the utmost professionalism from here on.”I spent the remainder of the day glued to my email, alternately sweating bullets and praying that the editor would somehow overlook my crazy behavior and give me a second chance. But she didn’t respond to my accidentally inappropriate email or the subsequent apology. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much that night.

The following morning, I woke up and saw a failure notice in my inbox. My heart stopped as I read it. My accidentally inappropriate email had failed to send. I was so relieved until I realized that now my editor would receive the apology email, which would seem quite strange since she’d never received the first message.

I bit my finger nails and wondered what to do next. Apologize for the weird apology? Explain what had happened and hope she’d find it humorous? Wait to hear back from her? Go back to bed with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Karamel Sutra ice cream? (I nixed the last idea when I realized that that kind of thing was what had landed me in this predicament to begin with.)

Finally, I just decided to wait and see if she replied.

But the whole day went by without a peep from my editor.

The next morning, there was a second failure notice in my inbox. Yes, against all odds, my apology email had failed to send as well.

I was now back to square one. All of my angst was for naught. My editor was completely unaware of my crazy behavior. For all she knew, our last correspondence was her accepting my article idea. She was still expecting a perfectly normal freelance writer to send her a perfectly normal article on improving marital relations.

But I’m not perfectly normal. For the next two weeks, every time I tried to write the article, I remembered what I’d done. I berated myself for being so unprofessional and then, I felt so down on myself that I couldn’t work on the article.Months went by, and I never finished it. I never spoke to that editor again, nor did I write for that magazine.

Blowing that chance has always been one of my biggest regrets as a writer.

Until last summer. Last July, I signed up to attend a writer’s conference and that same editor was there. In the weeks leading up to the conference, I worried about bumping into her there. Would she recognize my name and remember that I’d sent in an article idea and then never completed the story?

I wanted to avoid her at the conference, but she was now the editor of a different magazine, one I’d already written for. I hadn’t worked with her directly, but she was the editor of a certain department in the magazine, and I had a great idea for it. Despite my embarrassment, I couldn’t avoid her and blow yet another chance.

I made an appointment to meet with her at the conference. When I introduced myself, I watched her closely for signs she’d recognized my name. She clearly didn’t.

I talked with her about my idea and she responded with interest. She was kind and friendly, so for some insane reason, I told her that this was not our first interaction. Yes, in a conversation with an editor I wanted to impress, I brought up my crazy inappropriate email from several years before. (I told you I’m not normal.)

She laughed and said, “I do remember you now. Did you ever sell that story anywhere else? Because it’s a great idea. I’d still love to see it.”

This time, I called my husband to request his help with the research.

About this writer

  • Diane Stark

    Diane Stark

    Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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2 Responses to “My Accidentally Inappropriate Email”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    I laughed out loud as well as felt your pain. I sent a story titled, Rearview in My Full Length Mirror. I swore i sent it to Sasee, but almost choked when i got an instant reply from THE SMITHSONIAN. Weeks later a nice rejection.

  2. Lisa Tomey says:

    OMG!! I LOVE this!! Once I sent an email to my boss to ask about an employee I supervised, only it also went to the employee. Here’s My Sign!

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