Professional writer’s thought on submission and tips for how to use the time in between.
One of the most difficult things that we learn in our lives is the art of moving on. Whether that movement is away from people or situations or ways of thinking, moving on is tantamount to wisdom.
For writers the moving on lesson can be a taxing one. We start our work. We explore stories. We find ourselves enmeshed with these characters who are as real as anyone walking down the street.
Sometimes we have to abandon a story. I have a colleague who elegantly refers to his discards the “mulch pile”. My stack of old stories is called the “bone yard”. You probably have one too.
That isn’t the moving on I’m talking about though. I’m talking about once you develop and write and re-write and polish and begin the process of going on submission. That too is high time to move on.
Not from that story. Time to move on toward the next one.
Going on submission can try even a saintly writer’s patience. The critical query letter is written. The story is finally polished. The manuscript goes out. You wait. And wait. Stories come back with a “no thanks” or a “maybe later” or even, “hey, we stopped publishing last week”. A lot of time can go by.
What’s the best use of that time? Start up the next story.
This advice is not simply as a feel good measure. I’ve written extensively about how no one wants to be viewed as a one-trick pony. You absolutely need that next story in case your editorial reply comes back, “this one isn’t for us, but we love your voice. What else do you have?”
Writers are no different than everyone else. We fall in love. We get tunnel vision. We desperately want that story we just toiled over to be the one. And it may yet be the one.
Starting on the new story is not akin to discrediting the work you once love. It’s a way of supporting its on-going journey.