Submittable and the neurotic writer

As many writers know, there are all sorts of way submissions of stories and poems to journals and magazines get submitted. Few places take postal mail. Lots of places take email. Most, though, take neither and use some kind of online form, such as Submission Manager, or Submittable.

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 12.27.34 PMHere’s the thing about a service like Submittable: You get to see whatever you have out in the world awaiting a judgment in one fell swoop.

Once a piece of writing has been submitted, the first status you see is “Received.” This status brings  writers a glorious sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and peace — for all of about 10 seconds. Then, as the days, weeks, and months (yes months) crawl by, and that status “Received” keeps saying “Received,” the writer begins to wonder, “Why are they ignoring me?” or “How can they let my work just sit there?” All a writer wants is a chance and some acknowledgment. “Received” comes to mean more than being ignored; it means you don’t have a chance (yet) and you aren’t being acknowledged (yet). “Received” can be very frustrating.

It should get better when a status changes to “In-Progress.” The first sight of it does produce of frisson of excitement — someone’s reading me! However, that can be quickly replaced with a sense of dread — someone’s reading me!

That second feeling persists, though, as the status remains “In-Progress.”

What happens next may not seem fair, or wonderfully fair. If the writing is “Accepted” or “Declined” (or if it is “Withdrawn” by the author) that status doesn’t appear — at least if the writer is looking only at the submissions that are still “active.” Of course,  you could switch tabs and look only at the “Accepted” writing — and if there’s a new one, the one that had just disappeared from the “active” list, then much celebration can ensue. Or you could look at the “Declined” list, and, if the new one is there, instead, I suppose the opposite of much celebration will then ensue.

No matter what, though, Submittable is supposed to make tracking writing submissions easier — and it removes what in the pre-Internet days was just months of months of not knowing until a SASE returned. Now there are statuses that can appear frozen in place for months and months, and each one can fill a writer with various levels of anxiety and dread.




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