Saturday, June 25, 2011

Writing in Carbonite: A Story in Purgatory

I like a good short story. On occasion, I write a decent one.

Like any other writer, I've been rejected. A lot.

Like any other writer, I've been accepted. A little.

But this afternoon I'm writing about a new experience I'm having with short stories: the hold request.

Let me be clear: this is not a rant. This is not a complaint. This is not a blog post in which I whine about the unfairness of waiting, waiting, and waiting. Complaining about the way publishing works does absolutely no good for writers.

That being said, there is something worse than rejection. It is the impossibility of knowing. On two occasions in the last two weeks, I've received "hold" requests for submissions.

This is not a rejection.

This is not an acceptance.

This is purgatory, as if someone took my story, transported it to Cloud City, and threw it in Ye Olde Carbon Freezing Chamber.

To quote Lando: "You put him in there, it might kill him."

On the plus side, Han eventually got out. Of course, then Jabba tried to kill him.

The hold request, in all honesty, is a good thing. The editor has read my story, deemed it worthy of inclusion in his/her anthology, and asked permission to hold it back.

These are usually handed out early in the submission process for stories turned in well before the deadline.

But it does not guarantee my story will make it.

The other way to look at it: my story is good, but not good enough to garner an enthusiastic, "I'll take it!" from the editor. Some new, shiny story could come along and bump mine out of contention.

The "hold request" will either turn into a story acceptance or become a casualty of a word war.

Until then, I will continue to wait...a writer whose story is in suspended animation, frozen in carbonite.