Hurry Up and Wait

Last night I submitted my entry for the third quarter of the Writers of the Future contest for 2012.  The deadline isn’t until the end of the month, but since I had a story ready that I felt good about, I decided it wasn’t going to serve any purpose just letting it sit on my hard drive.  Besides, last quarter’s heart-attack-on-a-stick of not finishing my submission until there were only four hours left before the deadline isn’t something I’m keen on revisiting.

That said, my quarter two entry is still waiting in the slush pile there, so I now have two stories waiting at the same market.  And, there are people still waiting for results in quarter one!  Normally, this contest is much faster with its turn-around time, but the sad passing of K.D. Wentworth, the coordinating judge, near the end of the first quarter has caused a backlog.  The new coordinating judge, David Farland (Dave Wolverton), is now on the job and I’m sure we’ll start seeing results soon.

It got me thinking, however, about how much of this writing world is a hurry up and wait proposition.  Admittedly, most short story markets don’t have the same deadline system that the WotF contest does, but we work hard, write the best stories we can, send them out into the big world and wait.  Some markets, notably Lightspeed and Clarkesworld, have very quick return times.  I really appreciate hearing back within the week, as tends to happen in these markets, but most are much longer.

I decided to add up how long all of the stories I have currently under submission have been waiting.  Answer–one-hundred fifty-nine days.  That’s for five total stories.  I’m not a speed demon writer, and I know there are many people who have significantly higher numbers, both of stories at markets and total days waiting.

So here’s my challenge to myself–get more stories at market and increase that total wait time!  I wonder how quickly I can bring my wait time up to 365 days?  As I hear back from my current submissions, I’ll lose days, so I’ll need to get more stories out there in decent numbers to make that goal.

Time to get writing!

How many stories do you have at markets?  What is your combined wait time?