I’ve been a good little writer lately in that I have finished several short stories, and more importantly, I have sent them out. In fact, I have more stories out on submission right now than I have ever had out before. I may have more out right now that I have ever sent out in an entire year. Not that I have a huge number of submissions out – just that I am usually so bad at finishing and being brave enough to submit at all. There are usually months of getting up the nerve to research markets and all the rest of the process. I’m going to go even further in patting myself on the back because two stories were rejected last week, and I already have them back out again. Maybe this isn’t all that impressive, but it is a step forward for me, so I’m telling you about it.
I use Duotrope.com to find markets and track my submissions. One of the neat features of Duotrope is their statistics. They have the percent of submission from their users that are accepted or rejected for each market. Further, they have the average time it takes for a reply, and the average time for a rejection versus for an acceptance. From the markets I’ve looked at, it seems like rejections tend to come a lot quicker than acceptances. However, I have found myself paying way too much attention to how long my story has been with a particular market – is it closer to the rejection time, or the acceptance time? I check on that much more often than can be healthy.
There is writing advice I’ve heard frequently to finish your story, send it out, then don’t think of it – just write the next thing. I thought that as I wrote more (like I’m doing now) that would be easier. Turns out, I’m actually obsessing more though. I think when I sent one thing out every 6 months or so, and I wasn’t doing much writing in between, it was easier to forget about. Now that I write every day and send things out as regularly as I can manage, it isn’t ever far from my thoughts. Still, you don’t move forward or grow as a writer doing things they way I was doing them before. I have to hope, and believe, that this is better, even if it’s stressful.
Maybe stories really are like children in that way. Having more of them doesn’t mean you care about each individual one less. It just gives you more to worry over. Or I’m just a person prone to excess worry.