Sunday, January 17, 2010

Patience, My Friends ... Patience

For years, it was a daily ritual to check my mailbox in search of that elusive, much hoped for acceptance letter. More often than not, I received rejections, but I figured this was part of the learning process. A number of editors offered great advice and requests to see a revised version of my stories, and I’m happy to say that all of these stories eventually wound up published.

When I started writing three decades ago, snail mail was the only means of submitting one’s work and the wait could be terribly long. I remember one magazine taking four years to publish one of my stories. Book publishers would take a year or more to respond. My experience with agents wasn’t any better. I spent four years with one agent and two years with another, to no avail, and it took many months to find them! Right now, I’ve been waiting to hear from two publishing houses for eighteen months, and I’ve lost track of the number of times an editor has responded with, “Thank you so much for your patience....”

When e-zines began to flourish, the waiting grew mercifully shorter. Five years ago, I could submit a story and hear back in a week; sometimes the same day! And I still do occasionally, yet I’ve noticed over the last couple of years that even many electronic publications are taking as long to respond as their print counterparts.

All this experience has taught me that being published is as much about patience as it is about writing well and getting your polished pieces into the hands of editors and publishers. So, to aspiring writers, I would strongly recommend that you add this trait to your list of essential writing tools. Patience can and does pay off, and the time goes much faster if you start a new writing project while you wait. Best of luck to you!

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