Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Patience is a necessary virtue for writers.

No one warned me about that.

I'm currently suffering from cabinfever-level impatience which has me flipping through websites, blogs, and Craig's List forums like an internet Flying Dutchman. It's my alternative to pacing. Why? Because I'm fretting over my submissions and can't do anything about them.

I have eight short stories out on submission. The -- how shall I put this-- most finely aged submission celebrated its first anniversary in the hands of one editor way back in June.

Novelist chuckle. A year! A mere year and she's losing it?

Yeah, well, the short story market is a little different from the novel market.

Editors may have just cause to grumble about clueless writers. Somehow the concepts of being an artist and acting professionally can't co-exist in the brains of many writers. The horror stories I hear while talking to editors are funny to me because I don't have to deal with it.

The guilt by association isn't fair though. Some of us read submission guidelines and even follow them. We restrict our artsy-fartsy side to writing stories. If I ever submit something in violet, cursive type on scented paper, it's going to be to an editor I know very, very well and who will appreciate the joke. I also won't expect that story to be accepted.

Editors aren't the only ones who are subjected to iffy manners. Writers have some reasons to get grumpy too.

Even though he rejected my story, Sean Meriwether from Velvet Mafia is my ideal editor. I wish everyone I submitted to was as good at communication as he is. He sent an e-mail acknowledging my submission. He sent another e-mail telling me when he expected to make his decision. He sent a kind rejection.

It doesn't sound like much, but I really appreciated it. I e-mailed a note thanking him for that. (Not for the rejection. I'm not a literary masochist. I thanked him for keeping me informed.)

Unfortunately, since then, I haven't had a story that I felt met his needs. Sure, I have a hot vampire story waiting for the right publisher, but Sean actually flinched when I told him about it. Oh, it was a small cringe, a tiny twitch of his eyelid, but I saw it. Won't be submitting that tale to him any time soon! When I do have a story that's right, he'll be the first person to see it though, because he's the god of good manners.

I won't name names on the other end of the spectrum. The anti-Seans. I won't trash a reputation simply because I felt the need to pull a story. What if it was simply a personality clash? Or maybe I was being the difficult one. (No. That couldn't be it. I'm a frickin' saint.) Whatever the reason, my bad experience might be your wonderful one, and there's nothing to be gained by catty sniping.

To be fair, most editors I deal with are very professional. However, I choose my submissions carefully. If an editor writes, I've read their work. If they've edited an anthology, chances are I've read it, and that I know a writer with a story in it. I ask. I do my homework. I'd rather not submit than deal with an unprofessional amateur.

As for my impatience, I have, twice in the past, sent polite e-mails inquiring about submissions that I assumed the editor had in hand. Assumed because there was no communication acknowledging the submission. In both cases, I waited six months after the deadline for submissions to inquire about the status. In both cases, my story was eventually rejected. As a writer, it's very irritating to have a story tied up that long and have nothing to show for it. So even though it would nice if the editor would drop me a line telling me how things are going, I'm not going to ask about the submission that's been out for 14 months-- just in case past results are any indication of future outcomes.

In the meantime, I suppose I could read something. If only Mike Kimera's new book would get in the bookstores. I waiting to review it. Impatiently, of course.

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