Here on Daily (w)rite, as part of the guest post series, it is my absolute pleasure today to welcome Marc De Faoite, author, reviewer and editor, who speaks about writers submitting their work for publication.
Take it away, Marc!
You’ve been getting signals for a while now, at least you think you have, and you’re on the verge of leaning in for that first kiss. Your heartbeat quickens, even as time slows down. You commit yourself, hyper-aware of every detail, unsure if you should close your eyes or keep them open, unsure if this will lead to reciprocation or rejection.
Many of us recognize this scene, this hesitant willingness to be vulnerable while being honest about our desires. The path forks, but the choice of direction depends on someone else. Having stepped beyond the brink, we put our fate in their hands, submitting ourselves for approval or disapproval.
There can be fear in this, there can be desire. Fear and desire, it’s these two elements that create the delicious struggle that heightens our senses.
The verdict is usually clear and immediate – we get kissed back or we get pushed away, perhaps gently, perhaps roughly, but at least we know where we stand.
Attaching a document to an e-mail isn’t quite as romantic, but the dynamics are the same. We put ourselves out there, or our surrogates in the form of writing, knowing that we either face the thrill of acceptance or the disappointment of rejection.
But the response is nowhere as immediate as with a kiss. Days and weeks and even months might pass, craving a positive reply, fearing a negative one, obsessively checking inboxes, trawling through junk mail folders in the off-chance that there might be some news hidden there. If the publisher is inundated with submissions, or simply inconsiderate, we might even never hear back.
Craving the validation that comes with acceptance is a form of suffering, and not just in the writing life. The word submission has the double sense of offering our work up for scrutiny and consideration, but also of yielding to a higher authority. With eyes downcast and lowered heads we second-guess ourselves and our abilities. What’s the point in writing anyway? But no news is good news, right?
That moment of doubt as we lean in for a kiss can be as nerve-wracking as it is thrilling, but it’s just a moment. When we send off that manuscript or story we’re stuck in purgatory for an uncertain amount of time, and the longer we stay in that state the more disappointed we are when sorry-but-it’s-not-the-right-fit-for-us comes along. We’re setting ourselves up for a fall.
Conversely, you open your e-mail, and there it is at last — congratulations-you-are-the-golden-one! Do you experience a wonderful warm tingling vibration pervading throughout your body? Do you punch the air and whoop as a joyous cocktail of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins floods your brain? Damn straight, of course you do.
Well, it tapers off. Happy? Yes. Slight sense of anti-climax creeping in yet? Wait a week or two. You must be thrilled, say your friends. You admit you are, feigning the enthusiasm you want to feel, but somehow the fizz of elation isn’t there. It’s gone flat. Feather in your cap? Sure. Eternal bliss and un-doubting sense of self-worth? Not so much.
We all develop our own coping mechanisms, perhaps you have yours. Me, I attach a document to an e-mail, re-read the submission guidelines and place the cursor over the send button. For a moment I close my eyes, picturing a match setting fire to the document. I press send and it’s gone. Sometimes these submissions are resurrected phoenix-like, sometimes publishers send me RIPs. That’s beyond my control.
There’s little point in wasting energy craving for acceptance, fearing rejection. It won’t change the outcome. Our time is much better spent wrangling with new combinations of words. Now quit procrastinating and get back to your writing.
Are you a reader, a writer, or both? What is your experience sending off your writing to journals, magazines, agents or publishers? As a reader or writer, do you have questions for Marc de Faoite?
This post was written for the IWSG. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for organizing and hosting the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) every month! Go to the site to see the other participants. In this group we writers share tips, self-doubt, insecurities, and of course, discuss the act of writing. If you’re a writer and a blogger, go join rightaway! Co-hosts this month are: Christine Rains Dolarah @ Book Lover Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor Yvonne Ventresca LG Keltner