The Waiting Is The Hardest Part.

Source: fromoldbooks.org

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.”

Source: Pinterest

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.

 

10 Comments

  1. BarbaraM

    I can not imagine why your works aren’t being published everywhere you apply. Your writing is brilliant. And that’s not kissing up, because there’s no benefit to me in doing so.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s understandable that sometimes what I submit just isn’t what some places are looking for, and I’ve gotten some very nice rejection letters that say things like, “We all enjoyed your essay on Picasso, but this is a fishing magazine.” Still I appreciate the support, all the more so because I know it’s honest.

      Reply
  2. Kristine @MumRevised

    Thick skin is a side-effect of writing. It will happen. My guess is you are shooting for the big stars first (McSweeney’s). Maybe getting your feet wet in a smaller pool will give you the nerve to get your once/month (or every second month) up to twice/month. We all know you are a fabulous writer and it will happen. Can’t wait to be here when it does.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Sometimes my philosophy is that I should aim for the Moon because even if I miss I’ll fall among the stars, and then freeze and suffocate in the vacuum of space, but dipping into smaller pools has definitely been my strategy this year. And one of the great things about the internet is I can confirm that those pools haven’t dried up before putting my feet out.

      Reply
  3. mydangblog

    Well, I think you are a wonderful writer, and I sincerely hope other people realize it too and give you a wider audience! And fishing magazines should feature more essays on Picasso.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That means a lot coming from a brilliant, not to mention published, author. And while I’m pushing fishing magazines to push more essays on Picasso I also think more art journals should publish essays on fishing. After all what was Boticelli’s Venus doing on that clamshell if not trying to land a grouper?

      Reply
  4. Tom

    Wayne Gretzky once famously said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Keep taking shots, Chris. Your stuff rocks.

    And if no one accepts your submissions, put them all out of business. That’s the least they deserve. 😉

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The Great One certainly has some wise words, and Gretzky has said a few smart things too. I know Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try,” so I’m going to do my best to do that voodoo I do so well.

      Reply
  5. Ann Koplow

    Keep submitting and we’ll keep reading. I agree that the waiting is the hardest part and I’m thrilled I don’t have to wait too long for your submissions here.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s comments like yours that give me hope I’m doing something right. And it’s that hope that keeps me submitting.

      Reply

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