by Audrey Stallsmith
My father once received a check for a poem that had been sent to a farming magazine over two years earlier. The check was tucked inside the issue of the magazine with the poem in it.
Dad, now 88 years old, doesn’t do e-mail, so I’d originally submitted three poems for him. That summer the magazine published one and paid him for it. Over the many seasons that elapsed afterward, we forgot about the other two. So, when the second check and its accompanying issue arrived, we experienced one of those pleasant surprises that sometimes come to writers—and almost make all the rejection worthwhile.
My father’s poem was about how goldenrod consumes abandoned farms. Upon thinking it over, I realized that the quarterly magazine would only have one issue a year in which they could publish autumn poems. So it’s no wonder it took a while.
I experienced a similar delay with an article of my own, which I sent to another magazine the same year I submitted Dad’s poems. Although the editor had requested the piece, I received no response, even after sending him an inquiring e-mail a few months later. Assuming that he hadn’t liked the article, I didn’t think much more about the matter, except to conclude that he was rude for not telling me so.
That editor called me, almost two years after I submitted the piece, to apologize for losing it. Having recently stumbled across it again, he wanted to publish it.
Before agreeing, I had to scramble to make sure that the event about which I’d written was still being held and that someone could supply more current photos of it. The article did eventually appear in the magazine—almost three years after its submission! It taught me that I might sometimes be too pessimistic about editors and the reasons for their silences.
Of course, not all of them are so poky. In an unusual burst of energy, I recently got my act together enough to submit seven different articles to as many different periodicals. I included a previously published one on guinea incubation which I considered a long shot for the magazine I’d selected. But, since sending it by e-mail wouldn’t cost me anything, what did I have to lose?
I received an acceptance the following day because the magazine just happened to be putting together a special poultry issue at the time. That proves the electronic age sometimes can expedite matters in fortuitous fashion. But not always! I also received three not-quite-as-prompt rejections, and am still waiting to hear from the other editors.
Does all this mean there’s still hope for the novels I submitted to publishing houses six or seven months ago? Perhaps. These incidents prove that, even in this fast-paced digital age, getting published still can take time. Sometimes plenty of it!
Registrar for St. Davids, Audrey Stallsmith authored the Thyme Will Tell mystery series from WaterBrook Press, The Body They May Kill from Thomas Nelson, and e-books titled Love and Other Lunacies and Inklings of Truth. Her recent article in Writer’s Digest was reprinted in the magazine’s Novel Writing yearbook. You can also visit Audrey on her website here.