Brain Babies: Keep Your Damn Pants On!


Yep. That’s right. Today, we’re going to talk about exposing ourselves.

No. Sorry. That’s not it. We’re going to talk about patience. Yup. Patiently exposing ourselves to the ones we love. Sharing our genitals for all to see…

Knock it off! It’s about being patient. Not about crotch stuff. Ew. “Crotch stuff.”

So, for real, keep your pants on, folks. I guess I mean that in both senses, but let’s focus on the implicit, rather than the explicit meaning of the phrase.

I touched on this briefly in my very first Brain Babies post, along with, like, eight other things. If you want to be a writer, there are a number of things you will need to get used to. First, of course, you will actually have to write. Duh. Second, you will need to act like a professional when dealing with the business side of things. You don’t have to be all stiff and formal, particularly if you already have a relationship with the person on the other end, but you do have to be polite and respectful.

Otherwise, your career will likely be a very short one.

Now, part of being professional is being – you guessed it – patient. We put our babies out there, cold and alone, in the harsh elements, not knowing what’s going to become of them. And we worry. We want them to do well, to graduate high school, get a job and support us in our dotage. Am I taking the metaphor too far? Probably. (Shrug.)

Here’s the thing, guys. It takes time. Sometimes, it takes a lot of damn time. From the moment you hit “send” and launch your precious manuscript, you begin waiting. Sometimes, you get an immediate confirmation of receipt. I love this! Sometimes, you don’t hear anything for months. I’m not so fond of this.

Sometimes, the projected wait time is right there in the guidelines. Yay! Now you know what to expect. And, frequently, they will tell you when it’s okay to query. Follow this. Seriously. Don’t query before, because it’s a dick move; don’t wait until long after, because they might not want your story, and they’ll tell you when you query if that’s the case. Then, you can sub it somewhere else. Yay!

Sometimes, it’s all very vague in the guidelines, and you don’t know when it’s okay (or even if it’s okay) to query. Here’s what I’ve figured out after doing this for five years and change: three months is safe. Here’s what I say, “Hi, (editor name). I submitted (story name) for consideration in (publication or anthology name) 90 days ago and haven’t heard back. Would it be possible for you to let me know if this piece is still under consideration? Thank you for your time.” Polite. Not whiny. To the point. Feel free to steal that if you want.

I have one story under consideration now that has been there for a year and a half. The publisher had some issues related to illness and deaths in the family that put everything on hold. They were kind enough to communicate this to their authors, so I left my (reprint) story there to see what happens.

I have a novel (co-written with Kerry GS Lipp – hi, Kerry!) that is under edits with a publisher and has been for months. We don’t know if it’s coming out this year or next. That’s how it goes. Sure, we want to know when it’s going to print. Sure, we’re excited and chomping at the proverbial bit. But, we wait. Because we know damn well that bugging them about it isn’t going to help and will probably annoy them.

You submit. You wait. It’s occasionally accepted (yay!). You wait. It gets published (yay!). And no one reviews it for months, years, ever. Mostly, you wait.

What should you do while you’re waiting? Why not write something? Work on the next story. Edit the last one. Do your damn job! Sorry. That was mostly directed at myself. I should be working on the novel right now (my first solo effort) or the story I’m writing for an extreme horror anthology (by invitation – yay!). Or any of the nine or so other works-in-progress I have going on right now.

Instead, I’m doing this. For you guys. Because I know how frustrating it is to have to wait. But, that’s the business we’re in, guys. It’s part of the gig. Along with the horrible Twin Demons of Self-Promotion and Meeting The Public (the latter I actually kind of enjoy, but the former turns my stomach), it’s part of being a writer.

So, take a breath. Let it out slowly. Grab a cup of coffee or a shot of something stronger if you like. And relax. You’ll hear from them about your (brain) babies. They’ll be fine. Let them climb on the monkey bars. Don’t worry so much. Sip your latte and chat with the other “story moms and dads” at the playground.

And go make more babies. But, keep your pants on, too. What? It can be done. That’s what zippers are for.
Ken MacGregor 2016

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