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Confessions of a Mailbox Haunt

The Rich Writer: Confessions of a Mailbox Haunt

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Confessions of a Mailbox Haunt

Successful writers seem to agree on one key to publication: you have to submit your work. It's not the only key, of course, but it is an important part of the process.

It's also a tough part of the process. I mean, you have to send your carefully-crafted story out into a world where books are business rather than emotionally-charged symbols of the author. In order to write a great story, you have to create an emotional connection with the characters; but in order to pursue publication, you have to relinquish that connection enough to let the inevitable rejections slide off your back. It can be challenging.

That's why I celebrate a bit every time I send out a manuscript. The Last Violin is currently visiting agent Andrea Somberg, of Harvey Klinger Literary Agency. I had the chance to meet her at the 2007 Pikes Peak Writers Conference. She made an exceptionally good impression on me--not only is she a delight as a person, she was quick on her feet in the question-and-answer session and she's a fan of Diane Duane's So You Want to Be a Wizard series. What more could anyone want?

Since I've been sending out articles and short stories for years now, I thought that I was immune to submission anxiety. I have a confession, though: I've become a mailbox haunt. At least, that's what I call it. I haven't heard it named before, but every writer I know has experienced it in some point in his or her career.

Here's how it works: After submitting a manuscript, I become acutely attuned to the habits of the postal service. I knows the sound of the postal truck's engine, know the precise time of day that the mail arrives (3:30 pm), and still make occasional mid-morning trips to the mailbox, just in case the postal carrier decided to make a surprise delivery. Any trips up the driveway also require mailbox checks. (I'm not sure what I'm thinking--that the mail will materialize within? That I somehow missed an important envelope in the rear? That the postal carrier made a stealth trip through the neighborhood?)

Each mailbox visit causes a slight increase in heart rate as my mind reviews the far reaches of possibility--quickly followed by another, more reasonable voice: "You just sent your story yesterday, Cheryl. It hasn't reached the editor's desk yet, much less prompted a reply."

Sigh. Luckily, I have plenty of other fun projects to distract me from this unfortunate tendency, because I know the drill: Submit, submit, submit, until my skin thickens a bit more and I no longer spend the day half-listening for the mail truck. Until I no longer fight the urge to haunt neighborhood mailboxes.

Wait--I sent Andrea an e-mail query! Gotta go check my in box....

:) Cheryl

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