The Submission Wait

The Guest looms over my shoulder, invisible but obtrusive. She wraps her arms around my chest, constricting my lungs from expanding. Months pass and she follows me everywhere. I can’t breathe, but I allow her to stay as I wait for her to either profess her love, or to reject the invitation into my soul.

“You have no control over me,” I lie, and her grip loosens, but only for moments.

Each day, she is there, a shadow to my every move. And I can’t tell her to go because she is a guest—a torturous but welcomed guest.

I’ve learned over the last year that I can’t hold my breath over every submission. I’d suffocate in the wait. Since I’ve started writing, I’ve submitted stories to various publications about 45 times, and have been accepted for only seven of those submissions. Three have been accepted within the last couple of months.

Inviting a publisher or agent to judge the work that you put all of your heart into is hard enough. The wait for their response is even worse.

My first rejections were the most difficult. I sliced off a portion of my own heart, blood soaking through the pages, and handed it to the Key Masters for judgment. But I only received a form rejection letter with no explanation of why I’m not good enough.

Learning that rejection is inevitable was the best thing for my mental health. I wrote, I submitted, and I let it go. Sure, that looming guest is always there, but I put her up in a hotel so she’s not smothering me with a pillow every night. I check in on her from time to time. No submission over the past year has been welcome to stay with me—until now.

I submitted to a publication over a month ago. A submission that has potential for being my step up in the horror writing world. It’s kind of a big deal and the competition is tough, so odds of rejection are good. And though I tried to check The Guest into that hotel, she has found her way onto my couch. I’ve recently learned that this publication has begun sending rejection notices. I haven’t received one yet and now the suspense is killing me. She’s squeezing tighter, hot breath on my neck, claws ready to dig in, but I can’t help but let her stay, while I wait for her to tell me how she feels.

3 thoughts on “The Submission Wait

  1. “I wrote, I submitted, and I let it go.” I had to learn this as well. I remember reading in Brian Herbert’s “Dreamer of Dune” that his father, Frank, told him to submit, forget about it, and start working on other stories.


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