Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pushing That Button

I started at my screen, my breath coming in short gasps, and my heart beating rapidly in my chest.  I had just spent hours getting ready for this moment, and I was going to blow it.  I was going to chicken out and not press the button.

Wondering what I'm talking about?

Two nights ago, I decided that the story that was sitting on my computer doing absolutely nothing (a short story entitled Blood Mask) needed to be put out there.

So I opened the already edited story, and sat down to figure where I was going to submit it.  The truth of the matter is that it's not as easy as it sounds to find a place where your story fits.  I went through a lot of publishers, rejecting for various reasons.  From the fact that some of them seem to think that 'dark fantasy' automatically means 'horror' (ie. Please only send us work that will make us unable to sleep at night.) to magazines that get published so frequently I wondered how any of their authors could truly be featured.

Now, I'm not saying that any of these publishers are bad.  The opposite, I'm certain, is true.  The plain truth, however, is that this is my baby.  It might not be a novel that I've spent years of my life working on, but it's still something that I've poured myself in to.  Every single story I write has more of myself in it than I want.  If I'm going to put it out there, I want it to be to the publisher that I feel comfortable with.  I want the best things for it.

So, I spent most of my night sorting through publishers and formats.  I had pretty much given up hope, and I ended up deciding to make my search just a little bit less refined.  I decided to allow the search engine to show me publishers that aren't open to submissions.

This may seem counter productive to you.  It's entirely possible that I wasn't thinking clearly, my head clouded with thoughts of how I was never going to get this story published, but whatever the case, it worked.

I came across a publishing house based right here in Calgary.  The entry in duotrope was actually for Tesseracts Sixteen (which is an anthology), which was closed to submissions.  But I went to the website, because, I'll admit, I was enthralled with the concept.  I was sad that I wasn't going to be able to try and get my story in to this anthology.

Crazy thing, though, when I went to that website, lo and behold, Tesseracts Seventeen was being displayed as accepting submissions.

It was crazy!  The very thing I wanted, and there it was, open for me to try for.

So I did!

After a couple more hours with me pulling my hair out trying to get this submission up to the standards they were asking for.  (My open office REALLY didn't want to format anything.  I'm not kidding you.  I would format it exactly the way I wanted, close it, open it to double check because I'm just paranoid like that, it was back to the way it was before...kill me...) I got the email set up, the story attached, and had my mouse hovering over the send button.

And that's where you came in.

For the record, I didn't stare at the button for too long.  I think it was about half and hour.  That's not too bad, is it?

A friend on twitter managed to convince me that I had to actually hit the button, so I did.  After which I had a complete freak out which lasted a couple of minutes after I talked myself down, reminding myself that there really wasn't any way to get it back, and now I was just going to have to sit back and wait to see what happens.

So, now I have a story out there in submissionland, certain that I'm going to get rejected, and not so sure I'm upset about that.  After all, a rejection is still someone who has read my work.  Maybe it just doesn't fit with their anthology, and maybe it just wasn't their style.  Whatever, my work is officially out there in the world!  It's getting read by people who don't know me or anything about me.  It's getting judged by only it's worthiness as a piece of fiction, and I can't wait to see what comes of it.

No more pounding heart, no more shallow breaths.  At least, not until the email comes from them that tells me my fate.

Have you submitted anything lately?  What was your reaction?


  1. I've had a short story doing the rounds since the summer. I've racked up 5 rejections so far, and I have another two magazines to try before I retire it. I think I'm going to produce something new for Tesseracts. I'm also still waiting to hear back from the editor I sent my partial manuscript from. Submissions, and the inevitable rejections, get easier the more you get, and they make the acceptance all the sweeter.

    1. Very true. It's agonizing waiting to hear back, but at least this time they confirmed that they got it. The last place I sent this piece to didn't even do that. Even if I get rejected, I'll be happy to have gotten my work out there. This is publishing...the only certainty in it is the rejections... ^.~

  2. Good job in doing that though, seriously! It's really tough to put yourself out there. I got really lucky and didn't get my first rejection until after being accepted three times in the same publication; it really stung even though I should never have expected to be so lucky to begin with. I think I was made a little cocky due to my luck beforehand, and I actually wish I had been rejected a few times first because since, I have been rejected many, many times since which is really the norm anyways, and something any writer should learn to get used to quickly.

    All that being said; I hope your work does get accepted! If not you'll be inspired to keep going, to keep trying; the feeling of success when you do get one out there makes up for it all.

    1. This is the third time I've submitted. The first one I was in the maybe pile when the scrapped the entire project, the second I never heard from them until they put up a notice saying they were putting off working on anything for three more months (after more than three months without even a confirmation that they had received my submission) and offered to allow us to withdraw, so I opted to do so. Now I'm on my third...I would be more than happy for a simple rejection...

  3. The submission process in my opinion is such crap. Just in terms of them leaving people hanging. I wish they would at least send a notification that "yo, we got dis" or something to let you know they even received your work.

    Anyways, good look to you this time 'round.

  4. I'm so happy that you sent it in. Big hugs to you.