What I Do All Day

Originally posted on January 16, 2011 at 6:10 PM

I’ll tell you my very least favorite part of being a writer. It’s not rejections. It’s not waiting for rejections. It’s not the work. It isn’t even being called “a housewife.” It’s submissions.

I. Hate. Submissions.

I work the equivalent of a full-time job most weeks, in being a writer. I write for 3-4 hours a day (unless it’s a really good, fast day) 7 days a week. That’s about 25 hours a week. And then I spend about 2 hours on submissions each day. That’s 14 hours a week. That doesn’t even take into account editing and formatting and blogging and record-keeping. Throw in my 3 hours of critique groups each week, and hell, I’m working over-time.

I’m telling you all this not to complain (okay, a little to complain), but mostly to let you know. When people find out I’m a writer (which is not, I reiterate, the same as being a “stay at home wife”;), they often ask me, “So what do you do all day?” They don’t mean to be rude; they’re genuinely curious. I can understand that. So I’m explaining.

About half of my available working hours are dedicated solely to writing. The other half go to necessary, boring, mind-numbing crap. Hey, it’s true.

At this exact moment in time, here’s how my completed, unpublished works break down:

• 2 novel manuscripts- 2 sent out to a total of 14 agents queried, 1 partial in review
• 2 poetry manuscripts- 1 sent out to 1 poetry contest
• 2 short stories- 2 sent out to 2 publishers
• 8 flash/micro fiction pieces- 6 sent out to a total of 7 publishers
• 289 individual poems- 11 sent out to 4 publishers

As you can see, that’s over 300 works finished and always waiting to be sent and re-sent for publication/representation. That’s not even including all of my WIPs (2 more novels, 1 more book of poetry, and near-constant short fiction and poems). It’s easy to imagine how once I started becoming more prolific than my submissions it became almost impossible to catch up. But it makes no sense to me to stop writing to have time to submit. Writing is the whole point. Publication is desirable, but time-consuming.


The worst part of it all? That it never ends. If I got each of these accepted at the first place I submitted to, I’d be golden. But that’s not the way it works. I get rejections in the mail/email, and as if that wasn’t bad enough on its own, it means I have to send that same piece back out again. It takes at least an hour, usually more, for me to narrow down, research, and choose the perfect venue to send a poem or story. Agents are even harder. So when I get a “no” back, it means that piece goes back on my list. Not so fun.

If I were really, really rich, I would hire someone to handle all of my submissions. That’d be baller. Anyone interested in working for cookies?

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  • A. B. Davis

    Annie, I’m sure you get a lot of flack for being a full-time writer from writers who have day jobs (I’ll admit, I once envied you for it…okay, still kinda do 🙂 ), but so many people, writers with dayjobs included, likely don’t understand how much self-discipline and grit that would take. To not have to steal your moments to write in the in-between spaces–alas, that is the only option for writers with dayjobs. But to have an entire workday laid out ahead of you and to have to structure your day around your different tasks, keep your ass in the chair, and WRITE, for hours and hours. It is tough and you show how much it has helped you to evolve in all your hardwork and determination. 🙂 I know you’re probably much better at ignoring the people that ask this, but that’s why I like going back to read your old posts: to see how much you’ve evolved. And to hold out hope that this writer life will get better for me too.

    • Oh goodness. It’s so weird to re-read these old posts. Most of it is still true. I do feel a lot less bitter now, and a lot more self-assured. I totally understand envy (I know that being able to do this full-time is a luxury) but no longer let the haters get to me (okay not as much, anyway). My days vary, but I always get in new words and I almost always slog through some sort of boring stuff. Submissions are still a huge, unwieldy beast that can never be caged. And I’ve definitely gotten much better at being productive with my time.

      I’m really glad that reading these old posts helps you in some way. I’ll admit that I’ve been tempted to delete many of them countless times, but I always end up leaving them with that exact hope: that maybe someone can learn from my mistakes, etc. It’s really very sweet of you to say, and to take the time to let me know. <3