Submitting your work for consideration takes a kind of courage some writers don't possess. I was one of those writers for the better part of my 20s. Now, just a few months from my 30th birthday, my urgency to get published wins over fear of rejection. But some things don't change, no matter how many times you take that leap and submit your work.
Waiting is the worst. Well, okay, it's the second-worst. I currently have seven stories making the rounds right now. Thanks to places like Duotrope Digest, writers now have some idea of how long they can expect to wait for a response, which is both a blessing and a curse. When a story nears the estimated response date, I can't help but get nervous. A decision, most likely, is imminent. It's like waiting for the guillotine to drop.
A perfect example is my story "Glory in the Wasteland", which is currently on submission at Lightspeed. One of the quickest turnaround times in all of genre fiction, Lightspeed's average response time is something like two days--a day and a half for rejections, five and change for rejections, and I think it's somewhere like three days for rewrite requests--so you know from the moment you submit that you're going to hear back quickly.
Being the pessimist that I am, my first fear is "I hope I don't hear back today," because it will invariably be a rejection, and who wants to set a person record for quickest rejection? But I've been "Under Consideration" for two days now, which, if you listen to Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld magazine, could mean good things. ...or it could mean that the editor took the weekend off, and hasn't gotten around to sending my rejection letter yet.
I have been driving myself crazy with this submission, but this seems to happen every time an estimated response date nears; I will find myself checking my hotmail account every five minutes, checking submissions systems every ten minutes (if applicable), opening and closing and reopening tabs just in case it isn't refreshing properly, etc..
Does anyone else go through this? I suppose it would be easier if I had kids to worry about, or some other real life issue to take up my time, but unfortunately (or fortunately) I have most of my time to dedicate to writing. And yet when these dates roll around, the one thing I can't do is concentrate enough to write!
Anyway, here's a list of my open submissions and where they currently are:
The Bright Walk / The New Yorker / 83 days waiting / 134 day mean average RT / 90 day EstRT
Postcard From Arborville / Tor.com / 50 days waiting / 190 day mean average RT / no EstRT (this could be out a year)
The Machine / On Spec / 17 days waiting / 134 mean average / 180 EstRT
All Debts Public and Private / Ploughshares / 14 days waiting / 76 mean average / 150 EstRT
Broadcasting Live From Bensk / Pedestal Magazine / 13 days waiting / 39 mean average / 60 EstRT
...And Other Significant Junkies / Glimmer Train / 6 days waiting / 66 mean average / 90 EstRT
Glory in the Wasteland / Lightspeed Magazine / 4 days waiting / 2 mean average / 14 EstRT