Writers are a bit like kids really. We want to play all day and not bother doing our homework. We kick and scream when we're told that we have to pretty up our stories and manuscripts, spend hours researching markets and write the perfect cover letter to accompany our masterpieces. We sulk. We surf the Net and reply to emails. Or is that just me?
I usually put the whole submission process off until the few days before an important deadline. Then I curse a disobedient printer, grouse about the need to wax eloquent in a one-page note that won't get read anyway and grumble about the line-up at the post office.
Yet when the whole process is over, I sit back and think: "Well, really, that wasn't so bad." Maybe six hours of my time for two submissions. When you consider that the average short story probably takes about ten times that long to write, it doesn't seem that big a deal. So why the struggle every single time to put that story in an envelope, slap on an address label and stamp and get my submission out?
The obvious reason is the fear of rejection. Those slips of paper wreak havoc on a writer's confidence. But beyond that, I always think I can improve on a story if I let it sit for a few weeks or months. I'll find a better way to phrase that line, a subtler ending, a more fitting title. So the stories sit, minor tweak after minor tweak, waiting for me to finally feel that they're "ready for the big show."
That's why I've got to thank my writer friend Liz for organizing our second annual submissions race last month. For 31 days, I received emails from other writers with updates on what they were submitting. Each day, the numbers mounted. And the pressure was on!
While I didn't technically win the race (the winner submitted 37 pieces!!), I did submit a respectable 9 short stories and 1 novel manuscript in March. And I felt like a winner because the race gave me the opportunity to revisit some older pieces and put the finishing touches on a few of my new favs.
I'll let you know how the submissions pan out. One short story has already been declined. But I told myself to buck up and remember the last acceptance email that came my way. What a wonderful feeling that was.
Perhaps while I was on such a high, I should have sent out a flurry of new submissions. But no, I let the glory ride. After all, I was given one of the biggest excuses to play for the day.
A writer's journey