So, the birds have flown. Two stories have been sent out to three literary magazines. Well, okay, technically two literary magazines, but there will be a third tomorrow when I get off my slighty-less-than-motivated backside and mail it. Perhaps a few more submissions will follow tonight or tomorrow, if I can find something that fits. But as exciting as it is to hit that Send button or to seal it, stamp it, and ship it off, it’s also (read carefully) scary as hell.
Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve sent out queries. In its various iterations, Dark Moon 1 has been queried probably half a dozen times, and sadly, no bites yet. But as much as rejection letters make your stomach twist like spaghetti wound too tight, there’s nothing quite like the half-sick, half-stoked brain haze you get when you send the thing in. You want to be optimistic and all that, but if you’re a happy cynic like me, your brain keeps poking all sorts of possible disasters into your little happy-bubble.
Best case (okay, fine, best case after it being published and you becoming the next J. K. Rowling) it gets published and you realize, “Oh, wait, that’s actually absolute trash and now an obscene amount of people are going to see it.” Take my poem that got into the Juggler. I had a sneaking feeling that it would, because I had just found all sorts of bits to edit a few weeks after I submitted it. But hey, Scenario 1 isn’t that bad. You’re published. P-u-b-l-i-s-h-e-d. I’d take it any day.
Think about it. If you really are published, or just passed around the editor’s office, a small piece of your soul (yes, melodramatic as that sounds, your soul) is now floating around the world for the scrutinizing eyes of dozens. Or hundreds. Or thousands. Doesn’t matter if you’re a suburban housewife with three kids and your book is about androgynous space aliens who speak in clicks. You eke out of every word as sure as if you’d given them a detailed diary of your thoughts. Anonymity is dead.
But the truly scary part? Sending that query is final. It’s done. The whole time before you send it, your future can be whatever you want to be. Anything can happen with you and your book or your story until then, because until that moment, it’s all in your head. But as soon as you send it, your life is on a path, on track for triumph or tragedy. Once it’s done, you’re open to rejection.
What keeps you hanging on to that hope is that maybe one of those little birds will land somewhere.