Monday, March 09, 2009

Surviving the Submission Process

Writer Molly had some wine last night and like a bad split personality - Righteous Molly came out to play. Sometimes it's fun, most of the time I wake up the next morning feeling like I need to apologize to a bunch of people. This morning not withstanding. Maureen - Sorry.

Sinead's post on Wednesday about how crazy we are as writers is all too true and frankly there is no worse breeding ground for the writer insanity than those long desolate weeks of the submission process. The waiting for the phone calls, waiting for the emails, waiting for your life to start again, waiting to feel like writing, waiting to feel like doing anything - it's the worst kind of limbo.

I know we're supposed to just keep writing. Start a new project, get your head in the game - but is anybody really able to do this whole-heartedly? Really? Isn't just an exercise to exercise?

My worst submission hell was after two Harlequin lines had collapsed from under me (and Stephanie Doyle, but again - let's not blame her) . I got a new agent and she's a great agent (but tell that to a person waiting in submission hell - because what you do after doubting yourself is doubt your agent, no matter how good.)

But this process was taking upwards of TWO YEARS.

Two years of submitting to the same editor (who had said she wasn't sure I could write Supers) at the same house I had already written five books for. Two years. I had two supers out on submission and a single title that was going nowhere. So it was silence at one end and a steady stream of rejections from the other. I was hysterical.

I was at a party one night (a fundraiser for a camp for kids with Cancer - which you would think would put things into perspective for me - but no. Nope. Crazy and shallow and self-absorbed, that is the writer out on submission.) I picked a fight with my husband, left the party, walked home crying. The low low point of my writer life thus far.

So, what can you do when waiting? Well, what you really need is a kid with pink eye, or a flu epidemic in your house - something so time consuming that you don't have time to obsess. Barring that - I think you've got to get out of your house. Waiting for the phone or the emails is a long slow death. Exercise, walk, shop, drink coffee, drink booze. Anything to get you away from the computer and the phone.

Read. Read all those books outside your genre that have been piling up around you. But don't read your genre - please. That's the crazy inviting professional jealousy over for a barbecue.

Organize your sock drawer, make dentist appointments, clean out your front hall closet -- all those chores we neglect because we're too busy writing - now is the time to get it done.

And finally, yes, keep writing. Because that's what we are and what we do and the crazy just can't take that away.


Amy Ruttan said...

Yeah I hate the submission process.

I'm waiting on two fulls, some agent queries and a partial that's sitting with one of the said agents.

Usually I get really upset, start doubting myself, but this time I'm preoccupied with endless OB appointments, and I figure by the time I start hearing anything I'll be in the hospital getting over surgery and dealing with a newborn. :)

I don't like waiting. I do it, but I don't like it.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Yes! It's distraction on that scale that is needed - you have tohave a newborn!

Maureen McGowan said...

That's the crazy inviting professional jealousy over for a barbecue.

Thanks for the laugh, Molly. :-)

Maureen McGowan said...

Oh, and I can't quite figure out what you're apologizing for, Molly. If you did or said something to offend me, I missed it. Damn. :-)

Sinead M said...

Righteous Molly is fun... and usually right.

Amy, you have the perfect solution to submission hell. A new baby...

Amy Ruttan said...

And I'd like to claim I planned it thusly so as to not be really stuck waiting, but alas now it all came slamming down at the same time.

Stephanie Doyle said...

"That's the crazy inviting professional jealousy over for a barbecue...."

This line rocked.

Not having a baby - although if I thought getting knocked up would distract me - I might give it a try.

But I can just see myself in the dr's office "Ma'am would you like to know the sex of the baby?"

"No - I would like to know what the editor at Pocket thinks of my latest submission. Does that make me a bad mom?"

Thanks to both Sinead and Molly for these two posts which have made me feel marginally better about being insane right now!


Margaret Moore said...

I concur that the bbq line is about the best description of writer madness I have ever encountered! Stephanie - LOL at your post.

TWO YEARS? Oh. My. Word. I commend you, Molly. *That* is persistence.

Once I did a paint-by-numbers. It was one fugly painting, but it kept me from chewing my nails to the quick.

Amy Ruttan said...

Paint by numbers!! Doh so much easier than the baby thing.

Double D'oh.

And because I didn't think of it, the men now outnumber the women in my house.


Scotti Cohn said...

"But don't read your genre - please. That's the crazy inviting professional jealousy over for a barbecue."

Thank you, thank you! I always feel so guilty for being jealous when other writers around me claim to be "inspired" by those who succeed. When I was younger, I was inspired. Now that I'm older, my most common reaction to another writer's huge success is: "Why isn't that me? Why am I not more successful? Time is running out!" LOL

Christine d'Abo said...

Okay, I so needed to read this today. Maybe its the time of year or something...I've been so down on my writing recently its starting to scare me. I'm having a hard time moving on with a new project because my head is stuck in "OMG I suck" mode.

You know what, tonight I'm going to take a deep breath, watch Supernatural, and TOMORROW I'll get back at it.

Erica said...

This made me laugh so hard that tears are actually running down my cheeks, because while waiting to hear back about my full, we've had pinkeye, ear infections, strep, head colds, and the stomach flu. The baby's had the flu twice. My new plan to keep myself occupied? Prep our house so we can put it on the market. Surely, that will keep me from clicking refresh on my email eight frillion times a day, right?

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