There is a special place that all unpublished authors wanting to submit to a publisher evenutally congregate in. It’s called Unpublished Author Waiting Limbo. It’s really not either heaven or hell but I’m going to designate it hell and give it it’s very own special circle because Unpubbed Author Waiting Limbo can be torture. And it’s not because Unpubbed Author Waiting Limbo is full of devils with pitchforks and crows pecking your eyes out. It’s actually quite a nice place. There are comfy couches and seats. Magazines to read. A little library of books. There’s a bar and music. A nice fire going. It seems comfortable. But that’s just on the outside. Inside, every single author is torturing themselves with “what’s happening to my submission?” Because that’s the problem with Unpubbed Author Waiting Limbo. You don’t know. And when we don’t know, our brain makes up all kinds of stories about what is happening with your sub. Maybe it’s taking so long because the ed loves it and is getting a second opinion? Maybe it’s taking so long because the ms has gone missing? Maybe it’s taking so long because the ed hasn’t got to it yet? Maybe she hates it and it’s gone in the bin and I didn’t get the rejection email?
There are thousands of stories in Upubbed Author Waiting Limbo, all happening inside the authors heads. The human brain abhors not knowing and so when we don’t know what’s happening, it just goes ahead and makes stuff up for us.
Yay for brains.
Anyway, my brain is a master of making stuff up for me in the absence of not knowing. Currently, I have three subs out. Sub number one has been gone four and a half months now and since I have been passed to a new editor, I fear my Unpubbed Author Waiting Limbo clock has been reset back to sub number two, which has been gone six weeks. Sub number 3 is SYTYCW and two weeks after everyone else has had responses, I am still waiting for mine. I do not know why I haven’t heard but currently my brain is telling me they either never got my entry or they’ve lost it. This is making Unpubbed Author Waiting Limbo a very unpleasant place to be right now and I wish I wasn’t here.
I’ve got quite familiar with Unpubbed Author Waiting Limbo. It’s actually become like home. I’m starting to put up pictures and photos, put a nice rug down, got my special pillow. But you know, it’s not really home. I see people who have been here less time than me get that magical response which fires them up to heaven or down to hell, and I am jealous. I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to move on to Published Author Waiting Limbo which is just through the fabulous double doors down the end of the hallway. The doors that are guarded by two-headed dogs, a lake of fire, and a 900 million foot high barbed wire fence.
Some days I am okay with being in UnPubbed Author Waiting Limbo. I’ve got friends here and the vodka is cheap and plentiful. But today is not one of those days. There is a way out though. There’s a small doorway behind the bar that will let you crawl to freedom and I’m sitting at the bar contemplating that doorway right now. It’s in the opposite direction to Published Author Waiting Limbo of course but there aren’t any two-headed dogs or lakes of fire or fences. Just five minutes walk and I can open it and be free of Unpubbed Author Waiting Limbo forever. And it’s starting look very, very attractive.
Yes, I know the best way to handle it is to write, and yes, some days that’s what I do. But Unpubbed Author Waiting Limbo wears you down. It can sap your creativity. And no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get your brain to stop thinking about why you haven’t heard yet and devising various hideous scenarios about how lame your sub is and how your email filter is somehow deleting every email that could possibly be from an editor.
Today, as I am waiting for some sort of SYTYCW news and failing to get any, is a day of no creativity or inspiration. It’s a day of frustration. It’s a day where I think I will NEVER escape this place. I will be here for ever and ever and ever. It’s a day of thinking that it isn’t worth it and that it would be so easy to end the torture and just walk out the doorway at the back of the bar.
And right at this moment I want to.