Monday, February 8, 2016

What's Up with all the Waiting??

So you write something amazing and you send it off to your favorite literary journal and wait, and wait, and wait. What’s up with that? Do they keep shoving it to the bottom of the pile? Have they forgotten about it? Are they lollygagging around sipping lattes while you wait on pins and needles for their response? Why can’t they get back to you any faster? 

Literary journals are staffed by mostly volunteers who are working other jobs and have busy lives.The more well-known may have more paid staff but then they also have many more submissions coming through. Since the editors are unpaid or underpaid, they are doing this for the love of literature. You can trust that they will honor your work and give it the time it deserves. Be patient! Your piece will get read, eventually.

The problem is that while you’re waiting, you may start rethinking things and doubting your work, or wondering if you sent it to the right place. To calm these bouts of self-doubt, don’t send off your piece until you’ve done your homework, meaning:

  • You wrote the best piece you could.
  • You put it in the drawer for a bit and read it again with fresh eyes.
  • You read it out loud to find where you stumble and to hear the music of it.
  • You had at least one person whose opinion you respect read it and give honest feedback, and you edited it based on that feedback.
  • Hopefully you read it, or some portion of it, outloud to a group so you could gauge by the collective response -- laughter, concentrated attention, sighs of appreciation, yawns, confused faces, spontaneous applause or a rich awed silence -- whether the piece worked or fell flat.
  • You researched the most likely publication to be a home for your piece based on more than wishful thinking. (Or, at this stage you turned it over to Writers’ Wings and let me handle it as you get started on your next writing project!)

photo credit Michael Rosenthal
If you’ve done all that, even though it may take awhile stuck in a pile on an editor’s desk or computer, you can rest assured that it will get the attention it deserves. And who knows, maybe it will be the very breath of fresh air that editor has waited for all day!

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