28 August 2009

The Wait

So you've finished your masterpiece. You've polished it, and edited it, and trimmed it down to a level of awesomeness that astounds even you, it's creator.

You've taken the advice that is offered on every writer's website, and waited three months before reading it again, just to make sure.

You've selected a viable publishing house, filled out the paperwork, and sent it off to them. And now you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

It takes most houses at least three months to get to a submission. Three months, if you're lucky. Most times, it's more like six. Most also ask, and most how-to guides agree, that you not submit it elsewhere in the meantime. If, by some chance, they want it, they don't want to get into a bidding war over it with another house. Which is understandable.

So you sit, and wait. You check your mail three, four times a day, hoping for that envelope. It's interminable. Your stress level winds tighter and tighter with each passing day that it does not arrive. You come to hate weekends, solely due to the lack of mail delivery. You count down the days, and do complicated math in your head, trying to determine how much longer it will take, based on the distance it had to travel, the number of submissions you suppose the house gets, and the length of your submission itself. You start to fantasize about the reasons it is taking so long. Perhaps they loved it so much, they are having a series of meetings with their VPs, trying to settle on just how many millions they want to pay you. Perhaps they hated it so much that they burned it, and refuse to contact you, hoping that if they ignore you, you'll go away.

And then it arrives. By the time it drops into your mailbox, you don't even care anymore. Not really. You're down to checking the mail just once a day, sometimes even skipping it for a day. You've convinced yourself that it doesn't matter what they say in the letter, as long as they say something. When you see it in the mailbox, though, your heart skips a beat. You take it in trembling fingers and read the return address a few times, just to make sure you're not deluding yourself.

Much like a college application response, you try to gauge the response by the weight and thickness of the envelope. Is there a contract in there? Could it fit? Perhaps a cheque....

When you finally do open it and read the first few lines, your reaction here will determine your future. I'm serious. Chances are, it's a "thanks, but no thanks" letter. Don't kid yourself, my friend; Hemingway you ain't.

Now, how you respond to this is very, very important. And you can't really prep for it, either. You can break down, and give up. Let's face it, this is the option that most people take. Or, you can set the letter in your desk drawer, fire up your word processing software, and start in on the next chapter in your latest work.

That second option? That's the one that Hemingway would take.

Just so you know....

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