Something Custard This Way Comes

One bit of writing advice I always give is this -- once you've submitted a piece, forget about it and start something new.

This advice doesn't play particularly well when I offer it to the checker at the grocery store, but other writers see the value in it. There is nothing to be gained from obsessive worry over a title that is now on an editor's desk. You can't hurry the process. You can't affect the outcome. All you can do is chew your fingernails down to your elbows and waste a lot of time.

So I started my new book the very day I sent out the old one.

But today, some eleven days after the submission, I find myself doing the very thing I so often warn others against. No, not licking outboard motors, but obsessing over a submission.

Now, eleven days in this business is nothing. Eleven weeks isn't even considered a long wait. I once waited eleven months for a yes or a no on a short story (it wound up being a yes). So getting impatient after eleven days is somewhat akin to starting your car in Dallas, driving a block, and wondering if you're in Alaska yet.

Thus, in order to purge the evils spirits of doubt and dismay which bedevil me, below are the most likely fates my manuscript has already suffered:

1) My submission is being passed from editor to editor as each bursts into great raucous gales of laughter and screams of 'Is he SERIOUS?'

2) The publishing house has decided to pass on the book, and they're taking out a full-page public rejection space in the New York Times just to make absolutely sure I get the point.

3) They ran out of synonyms for NO.

4) They've hired the entire clown cast of Ringling Brothers Circus to pile into a tiny car and drive to my house and throw 919 pies in my face, each accompanied by a cheerful shouted "We regret that your submission does not suit our current needs" followed by a nose honk, a squirt of lapel-flower seltzer,  and another thrown pie.

5) See #4 above, but with musical accompaniment by the Blue Man Group.

These are the things that fill a writer's unkempt head. I'll dream of clown cars, I swear I will.