Thursday, August 8, 2013

On Not Being On Submission

I started publishing fiction in 2008. For fifteen years before that, I published academic books and articles.

During that entire twenty-year span, I've always had something or other on submission. Whether it was a monograph, an essay, a story, a memoir, or a novel, someone somewhere was reading something I'd written and weighing whether or not to publish the thing.

But now, for the first time in a very long time, I'm not on submission. My debut novel, Survival Colony Nine, is beginning to work its way through the production process. (I just got an email today asking for my author bio.) I've got a couple creative nonfiction essays coming out in the fall and winter, but nothing new making the rounds of literary journals. I'm working on a new novel, but it's nowhere near ready to show my agent or editor.

So here I am, not on submission. No anxieties, no watching the inbox, no middle-of-the-night questions for my agent, no drama. Just peace and quiet.

It's weird.

For anyone who finds her/himself in the same position, I offer twenty suggestions on how to fill the time (not in any particular order):

1. Read.

2. Write.

3. Review books.

4. Tweet.

5. Spend time with your significant other.

6. Spend time with your children/parents/extended family/neighbors/friends.

7. Take walks.

8. Work out.

9. Meditate on the wonders of creation.

10. Volunteer.

11. Fight racism, poverty, and environmental degradation.

12. Watch old movies.

13. Write your author bio.

14. Play with non-human animals.

15. Play with human animals.

16. Support writer-friends (or complete strangers) who are currently on submission.

17. Sleep.

18. Careen down water-slides.

19. Watch the stars at night.

20. Take a deep breath, center yourself, and thank whatever entity you feel deserves it for this moment's respite.

In short, LIVE! You'll be back on submission before you know it, and some of those mundane things will be swallowed in a sea of waiting and worry.