So a few posts ago, I talked about how I waited a longlonglong time for a story to make its way into a publication. I thought my wait was something worth talking about because I know I’ve heard that question from other beginning writers. “How long do you wait?” The question isn’t a bad one, but not one you should worry yourself about, frankly. You send a story out, and then you wait until you hear back. Usually you won’t have to wait all that long before the answer is handed to you by your United States Postal Carrier in the form of a rejection letter. Or the answer might be emailed to you. In the form of a rejection email. In less than 24 hours. (These are both true stories of failure from my personal history. My recent personal history.)
But sometimes the wait will seem too long or just not right. For instance, I had a story out at a publication that said on its website that it prided itself on quick responses—except that I hadn’t heard back from a story I’d sent them last fall. They also have a slew of interns who are, I suspect, kicking the slush pile to bits on a daily basis. It just didn’t seem right, and, plus, I had a newer draft of the story that I was thinking about sending out to other publications and I just wanted to clear the decks on that old draft. I needed to hear my NO from this place and move on.
You writers will see, from my build-up, where this is going. I emailed them, fully expecting to get my ding, but to get my ding today. But no. They’d sent me a letter of acceptance and, we have to presume, it got lost in the mail. The editor reports that they sent the letter out and never heard back from me. They must have decided that I’d sold it elsewhere and hadn’t the professional courtesy to tell them so.
So the weird, good news is that I sold a story to Southern Indiana Review. I just wonder how long ago I sold it.
This news does complicate my “I waited FIFTEEN YEARS to sell that story to the right place” story from a few weeks ago. How long should you wait? At least as long as the magazine tells you you should in their guidelines, but not, apparently, forever.