I got the manuscript printed, I prepared the packaging, I had it all ready to go out, and my husband says…
“The Post Office is closed today.”
Words of Doom.
I am always nervous about submitting something, and especially nervous about submitting a novel. Too many hours of effort riding on too little chance of seeing success. Now I'm trapped in the most tense moment of the submission process. Everything is done, but it's not too late to change my mind, to go back, to do something different. There is nothing to do except fret, wondering if there isn't something else I could be doing — and there might be, if only I knew what it was.
The package sits there weighing on my mind. I want it gone. I want it to be beyond my helping — totally out of my control — only then will I feel free to turn away and concentrate on something else. Instead, as I have all week, the overactive imagination that leads me to write speculative fiction in the first place sits there speculating away. Earlier in the submission process the mental scenarios were all good ones, although still irritating. “Stop it,” I would tell myself, “No one is going to phone, you're setting up expectations that aren't going to be fufilled. You won't even need an agent, so what is the point of fantasizing how much easier it will be to get one with an offer already in hand?” But now, it's only the bad news I can see. Over and over in my head the mailman arrives, gets out of her truck, and carries my unwanted manuscript up to the door.
It doesn't seem to get easier for me. Every near miss that I have, I get more and more convinced, deep down, that I really am good enough. That I really do deserve to make it this time, that I have put in my dues and and the pay-off is just around the corner. Personalized, hand written rejections are still prized, but the flat generic slips hurt worse and worse. Almost I chose to send the manuscript to the place I knew was way behind in their slush reading, just so I could be certain of putting off the possibility of such a note for such a very long time that I would have written a book or two more in the interval, and would be able to care a whole lot less. But I couldn't do that, because maybe this *is* the one that will make it. Because my husband likes it, and is appalled at the prospect of it sitting in a stack of other manuscripts unnoticed and unread for two or three years. Because it isn't fair to a story that I love to purposely bury it and hope to have mostly forgotten about it before it once again sees the light of day.
So here I am, practically in tears because I cannot take the next step, and there is no release for the tension. When I try think about my manuscript as just pieces of paper, it seems foolish in the extreme to have gotten so worked up about it, but when I sit down and calculate just how many hours were spent in an effort to produce those precise pieces of paper, with all those many, many words arranged in the way that they are arranged, well, then it starts to make sense.
Under those circumstances to expect someone to actually be calm about the submission game is absurd, but I have learned, over time, to let a story go, once it's gone. Only today, I cannot get it gone. Today is going to be a very long day indeed.