Waiting to Exhale

How long can you hold your breath? A minute—maybe two?

How about seven months?

I guess I was suffering from the misconception that when a magazine is interested in potentially publishing your work, they’ll hang onto it a little longer than usual.

The average rejection takes about two or three months. The fastest turnaround I’ve experienced was with Fantasy Magazine: one hour. But I guess I needed that kick in the pants to realize I don’t write fantasy. I write speculative fiction. Soft sci-fi. Horror lite.

So when Apex held onto a story I submitted last September, I was hopeful. Their submission guidelines clearly state that rejection letters are sent within sixty days.

But as the months passed, I started turning a little blue. Ah yes, a natural side effect of asphyxiation. I refused to breathe. I queried the publisher, and he informed me that the editor who had my story in her slush pile no longer worked for Apex and that he’d given my work to another editor.

I kept holding my breath for another ninety days or so, then I queried the publisher again—politely. Found out the second editor no longer worked for Apex and that my story was now in the hands of yet another editor.

I exhaled four PSI of air and held the rest—until the rejection letter finally arrived:

“There's some good writing here, but … I didn't feel [character’s] panic or his fear, even when it seems that his paranoia is justified. Best of luck placing this story elsewhere, and please feel free to submit again!”

Will I? Probably. I can be a real glutton for punishment.

But for now, my story is in the hands of Clarkesworld; and they’re really good about rejecting my work in three days or less.
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