The hardest part of writing is submitting, and the hardest part of submitting is the waiting. This is not to say that the writing part of writing is easy. It is, of course; it’s writing something good that’s the hard part of writing, but even that, for me anyway, isn’t as hard as the submitting part and the waiting part.
One of the first things I learned about writing, maybe even the first thing, is that the only way to get better is to do it. A lot of writers set goals of daily word counts, the idea being that if you go through enough chaff you’re bound to find some wheat. Hard work isn’t necessarily a guarantee of success, but not doing it is a guarantee of failure.
Anyway I decided to take a similar approach with submitting. At the beginning of the year I set a personal goal of submitting something somewhere at least once a month because I figured the best way to get over my fear of submitting is to just get out there and do it. Yes, I have this blog where I have complete editorial control and regularly put up pieces that elicit a range of responses from deafening silence to quiet murmurs of approval, but there’s a special thrill in thrusting something at a complete stranger and having them say, “Yeah, I’ll take this and put it up with the others.”
Or at least I assume there is. I have a long, a very long, history of rejections, or worse than rejections. What’s worse than rejections? Well, in high school I took my first creating writing class and one of the requirements was that we submit the stories we wrote to out-of-state publications. In those days that meant combing through the Writer’s Market for publications that said, “We’re so incredibly desperate we’ll even take stuff written by high school students.” And it meant sticking typed copies in envelopes and mailing them off and waiting. In my case the envelopes always came back with “Moved, no forwarding address.” A little more research turned up that most of the places I submitted to had gone belly-up. In at least one case it had happened right after I mailed my submission, which gave me the idea that maybe I could build a career out of being the world’s most unpublishable writer. I could hold literary magazines hostage, demanding that they pay to keep me from submitting, but that’s another story.
As for how I’m doing with that goal of submitting something once a month, well, it’s May, and three out of five ain’t bad, and while two of those submissions, sent a couple of months ago, have been met with deafening silence the place where they went is still up and running so hope still springs. The third has just been placed in its virtual envelope and the <Send> button hit, so the waiting begins. And maybe, just maybe, if I keep trying I’ll actually get better at this submitting thing.