GUEST POST: When your work is out on submission

Squirrel (Joe)Having your work out on submission, or “being on sub,” is equivalent to an eighth-grade roller skating dance party.

Your skates are laced tight. You’re hanging onto that half wall, with all of the other nervous kids, ready to step out onto the floor. Your hands are sweaty. Your throat is dry. Your stomach is equal parts Hooray! ticker tape parade and ACK! pushed off the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Then, the lights dim. The crazy laser light globe starts throwing multi-colored beams all over the lacquered wood, and the announcer says “It’s time for a couples skate. Guys, gals, grab a partner and get ready to rollllllll out the magic!”

This is it, this is the moment. This is your chance to skate with [insert desired name here]. You put your foot forward and step into the laser swathe, roller maelstrom, music thumping, vulnerability of the eighth-grade partner-searching phase.

Wanda said that Billy said that he saw Stacey asking Dana if Jennifer knew if Christopher’s sister, Katie would ask Regina if Ginnie would find out if Gina would ask Donna to skate with you…

This is how it feels to be on sub. Equal parts excitement, anxiety, madness, and hope. You seek fortune-tellers in shadowy alleys asking them to read tea leaves for an answer. You wander the streets talking to squirrels and popping Tums like they’re Skittles. You shower with your socks on and check your email every 1.7 minutes, on average. Even in the shower.

When news comes in, you shriek and drop everything, consulting the electronic oracle. When a publisher passes, you fall to your knees, railing at the sky. “I’m a failure! They hate me! Was it my name? Should I change my name? Is it my socks? Do they hate my favorite color? Should I have changed the robotic clown ninjas in chapter 53 to pencil-selling Hari Krishnas?” What? We’re artists. We’re dramatic.

Your agent will tell you to relax, that this business is not personal and there are many, many reasons for why they may have passed. They’ll tell you to keep working on the next book and stop reading into anything. They’ll tell you to start doing yoga and stop talking to squirrels.

Then…it happens. The good news you have been waiting for:

You have an offer on your manuscript.

And suddenly…suddenly you are holding hands with your skating partner, gliding along on the lacquered wood and not even the multi-colored laser lights can wipe that smile off your face. You’ve done it!

And then you get ready to do it again….

Joe McGeeJoe McGee is a children’s book author from southern New Jersey. He is a graduate of the Rowan University Master’s Writing Program and is currently pursuing his Master’s of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Joe is a former airborne Army officer, the father of three young boys, and a writing instructor at Rowan University. His fiction and poetry have won national recognition.


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15 responses to “GUEST POST: When your work is out on submission

  1. YES–you have nailed it! Everything you wrote tallies with my experience so far. All but that very last part…

  2. Lesley C

    I always thought it would be more roller coaster than anything else. Congrats, Joe!

  3. Pingback: Guest Blogging Again…Submissions, Roller Skates & Talking Squirrels | Joe McGee - Author

  4. Great post. Love the comparison to the skating party!

  5. Checking email every 1.7 minutes? Seriously, you can wait that long? 🙂 I’m considering getting a smartphone so a little chime will notify me IMMEDIATELY when I have won the title Master of the Literary Universe. (Nice post–and congrats on the offer!)

  6. Nailed it. That was exactly every Saturday at Youngs Skating Rink on Skippack Pike in Blue Bell, Pa in 1986.