From Darkness into Light

From Darkness into Light
From Darkness into Light by Dall'ombra Alla Luce courtesy of WikimediaCommons

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Waiting Game

I had planned to make this blog nothing but announcements about my writing - hopefully positive announcements about progress made with editors or agents - sprinkled with some commentary, like the genesis of my stories. But really, a blog is for blogging. Announcements can be pasted into the website I plan to have someday if I ever attain SFWA membership. Meanwhile, I might as well share some of my thoughts on the writing process while I wait (and wait) on subs that are out circulating. In fact, I have some thoughts on waiting...

I’m one of those instant gratification people. I’ve always been frugal and not much of a shopper, but if I see something I really want, I want it right then. I don’t like to go home and think about it for a day or two. On top of that, as I’ve posted earlier, I have a few OCD traits (as I imagine most writers do - obsessiveness seems part and parcel of the necessary elements to be a writer). These two things combined, though, make the wait for responses to submissions a kind of Sisyphean hell - especially if the response turns out to be a rejection. On the other hand, I’ve had negative responses within a day or two of submitting, which, while promptness truly is appreciated, the expediency of the reply makes me wonder if they ever even read what I sent. Recently, the inevitable finally happened. I had not one but two submissions lost in space.

The first was a short story submission to Apex. It was the story that won an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest, and so I had high hopes. (Okay, I always do.) Their acknowledgement of the sub said they would try to reply in 20-30 days, but I had heard they were often substantially over that. At three months I queried. I got a nice note back from an assistant there saying she would forward my query to the editor who received the story. A month later, still nothing. I wrote again saying that unless the story was under consideration, I planned to submit it elsewhere. Again a polite reply from the same woman saying again that she would try to get an answer from the editor for me. Again nothing. Five months of time with that story going nowhere. (To be fair to Apex, a submission to anyone can be lost, and they have since changed their submissions system to an online form with a submissions tracker. Some response from the editor would have been nice, though.)

The second lost in space, I think actually worked in my favor. A well-respected agent with a good sales record requested a partial of my novel, Thiery’s Sons, after she received my query and sample pages. With some excitement at the nibble, I formatted my partial to her specs and sent it online the next day. At eight weeks, I began to wonder, but we had just come out of the holiday season, so I gave it another month and then queried. Yup. The partial had never arrived. The agent was very apologetic, asked me to send it again, and both she and another agent working with her read the partial. She ultimately decided to pass on the novel, but went on to write some personal notes below the form rejection, very flattering comments about my writing. Yes, it was still a rejection, but I think the sub being lost actually got it more specific attention than it might normally have received. I hope my name and my writing stick with her a little longer than her many other rejections as I hope to sub another book to her this year.

So the query process goes on. I have three short stories currently out and one more almost ready to go: one out 6 weeks at a magazine that normally answers in about 4 weeks, one out two weeks that I should hear on any day now, and one just sent to Writers of the Future again, which I don’t expect to hear on for at least four months.

Move over Sisyphus, I'll take that boulder for awhile.