Normally, I’m a patient man. I grew up with three younger sisters, after all. But this past week, I’ve been fidgety and prone to drumming my fingers to count the time. You see, it’s been six days since I hit the “submit” button. Six days of obsessively checking my email; six days of second-guessing my semicolon usage; six restless nights of practicing my autograph for future book signings.
Last Sunday night, I took the first steps toward establishing myself as a published author and submitted a short story to a literary journal (the publication in question shall remain nameless for fear of jinxing it). I finished a story, got some trusted critics to edit it and sent it out into the world to fend for itself. Now, all I can do is wait — and the waiting is eating away at my inner artist like hydrochloric acid.
Logically, I know it’s silly to expect a response so quickly. I probably won’t hear back for several more weeks, but it’s already devouring my self-esteem. I’m plunged into a bizarre, liminal space between greatness and mediocrity. I just want an answer. It’s not just a matter of wanting to know if my work is accessible to a 21st century readership, but my very existence is called into question. It may be paranoid to think this one story determines my professional fate, but it’s my paranoid delusion and I like it.
There’s something different about publishing your work. It isn’t going to transform my life, but I feel the step from “aspiring writer” to “published writer” is a big milestone and one to take very seriously. Getting a rejection isn’t the end of the world. In fact, I think it’s a rite of passage. If they say no, I can brush up the piece and shop it around somewhere else, but I can’t do anything until I hear back from the fiction editor, one way or the other. So, here I am, impatiently awaiting my verdict as the hours and days drag by.
Come on, just reject me already.
— 30 —
I’m passing the days on twiddling my thumbs on Twitter. If you’d care to join me, I’m easy to find at @jonnyeberle, where I mostly tweet about the arduous passage of time.