Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to School and Submission Stress


It’s that time again. Before August even arrives, back to school ads fill the newspapers. We wonder why we haven’t received a supply list from our kids’ new teachers (who probably haven’t even received their rosters). Unable to risk missing out on six glue sticks for a dollar, we go to the school website and print off the generic grade level list. The one that says you need a 64 pack of Crayolas with a sharpener, when the real teacher will insist on 16 Twistables. The list frenzy walks hand in hand with the jitters. The same sort of jitters I get when submitting a manuscript to an agent or publisher.

The more I think about it, the more I realize the two have a lot in common. So here they are (in no particular order): The parallel stressful questions we face when sending a kid or submission out into the unknown.

1. What if she’s not ready?
What if it needs more revisions, but I blow my one chance by sending it now?

2. What if she doesn’t have the right materials?
What if I leave out some detail of the guidelines inspiring an evil “Bwa
Ha Ha!” followed by a quick delete from the agent or editor?

3. What if she doesn’t make friends?
What if the agent or editor I love doesn’t love my writing?

4. What if people pick on her?
What if hints of my submission show up on twitter’s #queryfail,slush
realizations or as a #pubtip turn-off?

5. What if she gets a mean teacher?
What if I end up signing a contract to work with someone and we don’t get along?

6. What if she buddies up with a trouble maker?
What if I end up signing with someone who isn’t legit or respected?

7. What if she comes home and decides she never wants to go back?
What if a form rejection snuffs out my dream, and I never get up the nerve to
send out another submission?


The questions swirl through our minds as we pack backpacks and SASEs. Still, we let go. We must, because we’ve done our best, and it’s time. Good luck everybody. Here’s to taking chances. Who wants to go first?

1 comment:

  1. What a great comparison. I've never quite thougth of it that way, but you're so on the mark. And let hope, just like our kids end up loving and thriving in school, so shall our manuscript in the hands of the right editor.

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