Friday, September 14, 2012

Worth The Wait

One thing a writer needs, or must learn, is the art of patience. I have to admit that patience has never been one of my attributes. I was always a have it happen now person. I've been writing for close to twenty years and while on that path, I've learned to wait for things to happen.

I'm not there 100% yet, but I don't allow myself to get frustrated over waiting to hear from an editor about a submission nearly as soon as when I was a newbie writer.  It's a trait many new writers share. The hard work of writing has been accomplished and the harder work of marketing what you've written begins. Send it in and then---wait! And wait! And wait some more!

In time, you learn to let it simmer on a back burner while you move on to write other things and send other submissions. No two publications respond in the same amount of time nor in quite the same way. The longer you are in the writing world and are sending to the same publications over and over, you do begin to learn the pattern of each one. But when you send to a brand new market, you often have no idea as to response time. Some state a response time in the writer guidelines while others do not. Personally, I wish they all gave that information to writers.

Yesterday, I received an email message from an editor telling me they were going to use an article of mine in the next issue of their magazine. She requested that I send some pictures to accompany the article. I had submitted the article this past April--nearly 5 months ago--and when I had no response whatsoever, I mentally crossed it off. Silly me! The article is going to appear in a national Lutheran magazine, I will have a short bio with it, and I'm receiving payment and a copy of the magazine. All that is worth the wait.

If you don't receive a written rejection, then you can consider that your submission might still be in the editor's files and will be used at some time in the future. No, that's not a given but it's a possibility. It's also very likely that it will never be used, so do send it somewhere else if you've waited a reasonable amount of time and received no response. I once had an editor send me a gushy response saying how much she liked the lyrical prose used in an essay I'd sent. Then, she said, she couldn't use it right now but would put it in her files for possible publication in the future. That was more than 7 years ago. That one, I consider a goner.

Chicken Soup for the Soul has a very long waiting period. It can be months or even a year before they make the decisions on what stories will be included in the short list. They then notify the writers and tell them that not all will make the final cut. More waiting. My big complaint with Chicken Soup is that they do not let those whose stories were cut know that fact. The writers who get cut are left hanging. Once they read somewhere that a certain title book is being released, they know their story didn't make it.

Even with all the impatience, frustration and fretting, it's worth the wait when a submission makes it into print. But while you wait, keep on writing, keep on submitting.

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