Writers know about time passages. There’s the percolation time as stories germinate in the mind, root around for a bit, finally reach their little tendrils into the light. Then there’s the expanding/contracting time of writing the story – magical as it whisks by when the writing goes well, dragging on when the ideas don’t flow or your characters misbehave or your dog develops stomach problems just as you need to write something down and you lose it as you hustle the dog out and scoop the remains…
And then there’s the editing time, which can expand infinitely into space unless you grab your writing hand firmly in your non-dominant hand and say “It’s good enough!”, only to find several misspellings as you do a last read through…
But finally all of these times are expended and you send your little marvel (or big marvel) in to a contest or a journal or something, and move on to something new, while in the back of your head, you wait.
And then there’s that waiting bit.
I’ve a bundle of stories languishing in contests all over the place and I’m not hearing from the places I sent them to. Now this could be because they haven’t decided as yet, but I fear it is because they didn’t make the grade and so the length of time in waiting is actually busy time for the winners while they are reached and congratulated and edited and published before the losers are notified that they’ve lost.
So the time seems long only in that I can feel someone else’s excitement somewhere else and it makes me frustrated and it makes me lose confidence in my writing. I can see the others jumping up and down and smiling ear to ear (I’ve had just enough experience with success to know how it goes) while dozens or more writers sit silent, turning grayer by the day, gradually letting the ink dry in their fountain pens.
It’s like having to sit through a spelling bee that you’ve already lost, watching others spell things happily on while you sip water and try to be enthusiastic for them. While mentally wishing you were anywhere else including the dentist, where at least you’d have something to do with your mouth besides smile inanely.
And then I get angry, and I say to myself, Heck, they are publishing all SORTS of excrement out there these days – surely I can’t be THAT bad, and so the germination process starts over again. Creeping along the ground slowly, little green wisp like feelers.
Then the waiting ends.
“Join us,” the contest people say, “In congratulating the latest winner of the XYZ contest, who have won not only publication but a country-wide promotional tour and a three book contract!”
I am finding it hard to join in. Not that I grudge their success, nope, not at all. I hardly ever walk into a big bookstore and weep about all the hundreds of books out there that are no doubt better than mine. Or at least published, bringing in full dollars of self-esteem to their authors.