Lost in the mail

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

At the end of July, I received a response from a magazine editor regarding some writing submitted to them last September. This came as a surprise, because I’d forgotten all about it. September 2016 was when I started submitting work more regularly, and many other pieces had gone out to various publications since then. Some responded within weeks, several within months, and one or two responded within days.

When the lag time between pressing send and receiving feedback is nearly a year, it can be a bit discouraging. If the publication you’re submitting to does not allow for simultaneous submissions, whatever you  choose to send them is off the table until such time as they accept or reject it, or you withdraw it from consideration. Most of the publishers I’ve considered–and all that I’ve submitted to–have wisely chosen to use electronic submission systems. This is as efficient as their process is going to get.

With such long response times being fairly commonplace, especially among the more well known publications, there is not much to be done about it, other than try to make your own process as efficient as you can. For my part, I’ve been rotating among some faster responding sites and periodicals when material becomes available while waiting on responses from one or two of those that take half a year or more.

Some of what I send out next is new writing, some pieces are reloaded and sent off to another prospective home. This varies, depending on what the writing is. Short stories go solo, poems go in groups of threes, fives, or whatever other number a particular editor is willing to accept per submission. Poetry is still a tough sell, as it probably always has been. But, whether it’s poetry or short fiction, there are any number of publications where a given piece of writing might find its place.

As of this moment, I’m awaiting word on three submissions, putting together the next two, and planning where to go after those. Pieces are moving all the time. Keeping the process electronic makes things more efficient for me, and for editors on their end, but there is still the time between.

 


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Writing through depression

Depression runs in my family. Over the years, I’ve had some pretty dark days.

During the time I’ve been working on The Ghosts of Autumn I have experienced a few depressive episodes. The important thing–to me–is that in rereading the manuscript, I can’t tell which days those were. The scenes in the novel are what they needed to be. The best that I could make them be at the time they were written. There isn’t a point in the book where I could clearly say “damn…things must have sucked on the day I wrote that” The dark scenes are dark, the funny scenes are fun, there are light moments in the serious scenes and some darker moments in scenes where the characters are not in any danger. The tone that I wanted to create is there throughout the whole of the story.

I’ve blogged about the depression itself over on my personal tumblr blog, which seems to have become only an annual event (every time I get an email wishing the blog a happy birthday, I remember it and sometimes post something).

I’m mentioning that for only two reasons. One, Tumblr is the only social media site that actually asked me important questions when I searched for a depression related hashtag. It gave me an info page with hotline numbers and asked if I was okay. Then it went on to suggest a few blogs to follow. No other site has done anything like that. It reminded me of an online game I used to play when my girls were very young. Guild Wars was the only game I can recall that did anything like that. It would give a chat message saying something like ‘you’ve been playing for four hours, please take a break‘. In reality, I had been parking my character in safe spots and getting up to go do things like laundry or dishes, checking on napping toddlers, etc. in between completing quests. So I hadn’t actually been playing that entire time, but I appreciated the thought behind it.

The other reason is that whenever I am dealing with a serious depressive episode–or even if I just need a little “me time” to recharge after dealing with too many people, I tend to vanish from social media. It’s a pattern I’ve noticed over the years. If I’ve withdrawn from posting, commenting, and/or even ‘liking’ things, or I just haven’t logged in at all on Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram for a few days that’s when I’m not doing okay. If I’m online and interacting with any posts by friends or other accounts that I follow, it’s better than when I’m just not bothering to connect at all.

I might still be feeling down, but if I’m engaging in any way with something someone else has posted it can be a productive thing. Sometimes I am just reaffirming that I am not alone. It can be a way of confronting it and trying to work through it–especially if it is specifically depression related. Other times, I might just be looking for a distraction to help me feel better. Many times, that actually works. Like many creative people, my mind runs at a hundred miles an hour, and doesn’t always stop until I sleep. I’m constantly imagining things, questioning things, and recreating things in my mind. It’s an almost continuous flow. Montages of things real and imaginary, all the time. When stuck in a negative feedback loop, things can go downhill pretty fast. But when I am able to flip the script with a new thought that I like, or a positive emotion, it is possible to ride that right out of whatever funk I am in. Nothing works all the time, but this has happened with just random discoveries online. It’s all in how you use it.

It’s in times like these where staring at a blinking cursor on a blank screen can lead to nothing at all, or an eruption of creativity that leaves me wondering why it can’t happen more often. The days where progress is made–or not made–in a less emotional manner don’t leave an impression on me. It’s those times where it’s been difficult to focus through the glitches in my stream of consciousness that have given me the most hope. Because slowly but surely, something that is its own thing has been created through consistent effort. It can be read like any other book I might pick up on a bad day, and the story holds my attention. That’s how I know. In the end, everything is going to be okay.