Submit It and Forget It

By Melissa Face

Submit It and Forget It

In July of 2009, I made my first real attempt at publication in a national magazine. I wrote an essay about my grandparents’ farm. I noted a bit about the property’s history, told a few family stories, and expressed my feelings about the farm. Then, I drove out to the property and photographed my father working on the 1952 International pickup and took a few shots of the hilltop farmhouse and the surrounding forests and fields.

Over the next few days, I prepared my piece for submission. I titled my essay, “Back Home Again.” I read and reread it. I revised, reworded, and reread some more. Then, after I had practically memorized my piece, I sent it, and the accompanying photographs, to the editor.

Then I waited.

I waited and waited and waited.

I checked my email several times each day. I reread the writer’s guidelines to make sure I had done everything correctly. Did my essay meet the required word limit? I checked. It did. Had I sent them my phone number and my address? The website said that they could contact me either way. I checked; I had.

I obsessed about my essay for weeks. Then, while reading a book for writers, I came across a short little piece of advice. The author suggested that writers use the “submit it and forget it” approach. In other words, send in those manuscripts, essays, poems and stories. Adhere to the writer’s guidelines; put forth a valiantly creative effort; send in stories, and move on. It was great advice, and I intended to follow it. I just needed to check my email one more time.

By November 2010, I realized that I was probably not going to hear back from the magazine. Editors are often unable to respond to unsolicited manuscripts, and I started to get used to the idea of my essay lying in a slush pile on the editor’s office floor. After all, four months had passed, and I had heard nothing. No email, no phone call, no letter. Nothing.

For Christmas, I made my father a calendar out of the pictures I had taken at the farm. He really seemed to appreciate it and was glad that I had done something with the photos. “You should try to send your story somewhere else,” he told me. “Send it to another magazine. It’s a really good story; someone will like it.”

I thought about it. But sending it elsewhere would require some serious editing. I would have to eliminate quite a few words and potentially destroy the essay’s message. Plus, deep down inside, I still held on to a tiny glimmer of hope that the editor might contact me about my essay.

A few months later, I officially moved on. I no longer hoped for a response in my inbox or a message on my voicemail. I continued to write and sold some pieces to other publications. I added “Back Home Again” to my rejections folder and promised myself that I would work on it again…someday.

In July of 2011, I left my house to run a few errands around town. Before I backed out of the driveway, I checked my mailbox. I had a few bills, an early birthday card, a catalog and an envelope from Reiman Publications.

I opened the envelope and saw a check made out to me. A letter explained that the payment was for “Back Home Again.” The magazine had bought my essay, and it would be published in the August issue. I couldn’t believe it.

I ran back into my house, showed my dad the check, and jumped up and down until my calves ached. It had been two years since I submitted my piece, and it was going to be published. It was one of the best moments of my life.

When my issue came out, I drove to the closest bookstore and bought a copy. Several of my family members bought copies also. I even photographed my magazine on the rack in the bookstore. I was just so excited to have a story in a national magazine.

I still hold on to that snippet of advice that I read several years ago. “Submit it and forget it” is a great message for writers, especially those who tend to obsess about their work. But it is a lot easier said than done – even after two years have passed.

Last year, my dad framed a copy of my story and gave it to me for Christmas. It hangs in my hallway where I walk past it several times each day. I remember the day I wrote the piece; I remember waiting, and I definitely remember how I felt when I found out it would be published.

I’m going to keep it in plain view forever. It is a reminder that in the publishing world and in life, just about anything is possible.

About this writer

  • Melissa FaceMelissa Face lives in southern Virginia with her husband, son and daughter. Her stories and essays have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort. Email Melissa at writermsface@yahoo.com.

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Responses to “Submit It and Forget It”

  1. Melissa–I loved your piece because as a fellow writer, I know how we obsess and become despondent when we don’t hear. I’m glad you DID hear and that you snagged a publication.

    As far as other publications, have you checked out Publishing Syndicate’s “Not Your Mother’s Book” series? They have dozens of titles they’re working on. They’re looking for funny, snarky, sassy and upbeat stories. (I don’t know if you usually do memoir pieces, but I just thought I’d give you a nudge. ;)

    I’m glad you submitted the earlier story and also glad you submitted this to Sasee…

    • Melissa says:

      Sioux, thank you for the comment! I really appreciate you taking the time to read and respond. I have heard of the NYMB series and I have a story under consideration in the upcoming Family book! So exciting!!

      I enjoyed your piece as well and I hope you keep dancing!

  2. Rose Ann says:

    This essay really hit home. You have to handle the rejection and learn from it. It can be a good thing. But, the limbo is excruciating!

    Loved your piece–thanks for sharing the advice!

    Congratulations on your publication in a national magazine. So exciting!

    • Melissa says:

      Thank you, Rose Ann. Yes, waiting can be so excruciating. I have found that the best way to cope is to start a new writing project!

      Your essay was fantastic. I especially enjoyed the “twerp” line! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Wow, Melissa, all things are possible indeed! This is such an encouraging story for fellow writers like me. Never give up, huh?

  4. Melissa says:

    Thanks, Cheryl! I try not to give up, at least not until I receive an official rejection:) Then, the best medicine is writing a new piece! Thanks for commenting!

  5. Sherry Baldwin says:

    Melissa- loved your Submit It and Forget It! I am always amazed at how beautifully you write and really feel your stories! Congrats and being published again!

  6. Leigh Slater Green says:

    Melissa, I’m so proud of you after reading quite a few of your stories. In this case, I guess you could think of it as “good things come to those who wait.”

    Yes, waiting will drive you bonkers, but just keep busy thinking of the next story you’d like to write, as the others have said. I look forward to more of your stories.

    Leigh

Leave your mark with style

Comment in style

Stand out from the crowd and add some flare beside your comment.
Get your free Gravatar today!

Make it personal

avatar versus gravatar Close