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Breadcrumbs from the Void # 29 The Waiting is the Hardest Part | Alex Schumacher

Alex Schumacher


These are heady and dark times, my friends. The future of America is uncertain, and a wee bit frightening, for those of us in this country that are capable of employing rationale and logic. Though, if judging from the interactions on social media, it would appear such critical thinkers are rare indeed. It would appear as though I could sooner locate a Yeti or the Loch Ness monster. I consider it a luxury to have several projects every week in which I can dissolve and I do hope that Bread Crumbs from the Void may offer you even the slightest respite as well. Booze is extremely helpful as well.

I know I may be tough with you kids, but that is only because I know you are capable of improvement. I know you are capable of increased output. I know you are capable of resisting and withstanding the fallout of the atomic fucking bomb which has been dropped on the nation’s capital. As I type this missive there is only three years, eleven months, three weeks, three days, nine hours, thirty seven minutes, and forty-eight seconds left in this abomination of an administration.

But who is counting?

Every one of us spends countless hours every day waiting. You wait in line for a cup of coffee. You wait in rush hour traffic. At times you are solely waiting for the icy hands of death to release you from your worthless existence. More importantly, you wait for those god-damn gatekeepers of the publishing business to respond to your submissions and/or queries!

In a perfect world you would submit your slice of genius and the publisher, literary magazine, etc. would immediately respond with a gushing and vomitus affinity for your work. The editor would praise your panache and insist they have been looking for your particular manuscript — your brilliant, effervescent manuscript — for the entirety of their wasted careers.

Well, kids, this is simply not how the world works. In an industry already flooded with steaming mounds of execrable pages where the gears of progress lurch in a particularly hesitant manner you will be lucky to receive a response at all. Plenty of organizations have adopted the “no-response-means-no” method of rejection, causing your already desolate inbox to echo with an even more profound longing. Not to mention blue balls.

You begin to question everything you thought you knew, the aggregate of everything you once held dear. Right becomes left, up becomes down. Insecurities in your own ability as a writer fit you for a straightjacket once again. The shred of confidence you clung to erodes with every minute, of every hour, of every day you do not receive the slightest fucking peep from the other end of that literary fiber-optic cable.

Take a deep breath. It will all be fine.

In the Meantime

Against all odds your tenacity has allowed you to velcro your flabby ass in an uncomfortably antique hipster chair just long enough to pop the zit of an articulated idea into several thousand synonyms. Through overwrought revisions, which most likely assassinated the initial raw spirit of your anecdote, you now have a finished product ready to napalm reader’s faces around the globe. Depending on the submission guidelines you have either snail or electronically mailed your developmentally disabled little miracle into the lion’s den to be scrutinized and butchered.

You can spend your tormented waking moments agonizing over the outcome. You can jerk off so constantly your hand decides to dump you for another who is not so god-damn clingy. Instead I offer a number of far more productive endeavors to choose from whilst awaiting what will most likely be a rejection.

  1. Revise the story, poem, manuscript, script for scat play porno, etc. Odds are the polished version of whatever narrative you whimsically sent into the world on a wing and a prayer could still use some work. I would venture to guess quite a bit of work. So workshop the bastard. Locate a decent critique group and obtain what may actually turn out to be useful feedback. Trim the fat. Replace the deflated words. I will warn you against submitting the same piece to a house which has already rejected it unless it has undergone major reconstructive surgery.
  2. Initiate a brand new project. Pen that ode to your feline companion/furtive significant other. Outline the epic poem based on the autobiographical instance when you trekked across the street to the convenience store whilst tripping balls on one psychedelic or another. Compose the instructional children’s picture book regarding the ins and outs of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases. Do not allow your creative libido to become flaccid while you pine for the work you sent to whore around town. The lure of a fresh fuck is always invigorating and good for the artistic soul.
  3. Strategize your next moves. Seek and discover varied publications, editors, agents, etc. from the veritable smorgasbord of said entities available online. Writing is an exercise in both futility and the law of average. The more eyeballs that guzzle down your vocabulary haggis, the better chance you have of an influential person enjoying your particular recipe. If all else fails, you can chart a new course for your journey altogether. Heed the idiom most commonly attributed to Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
  4. READ! This should go without saying, but if you are an aspiring writer of any sort and you do not read voraciously then you will not be a writer. Not one of any significance or merit anyway. Athletes meticulously analyze and investigate tapes from previous games. Musicians absorb a diverse range of rhythms and styles to explore and possibly infuse into their own compositions. The very essence of writing stems from reading. Devour the texts of the masterful storytellers who preceded you for a genuine education.

To recapitulate, I know well the endless canyon of despair between submitting and receiving a response can be brutal. You should not allow said weeks or months to be sacrificed on the altar of procrastination or consternation. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Continue to put one word in front of the other regardless of the scrapes, contusions, and broken limbs you may incur along the way. Pain is temporary, cupcake. Words are fucking eternal.

If you would like to hear me elaborate a bit more on my own process, you can find links to a couple of interviews conducted recently with me on my website at: https://alexschumacherart.com/about/. Drop me a line from the contact page if you have any other questions, complaints, or declarations of lust.

Bread Crumbs from the Void will return in two weeks with another thrilling edition of hard-nosed reality for you big-talkers and wannabes. Until next time, keep scribbling you freaks.

About the Columnist:

Profile 4Alex Schumacher has toiled away in the relative obscurity of minimum-wage jobs and underground comics longer than he cares to admit. Currently he produces the weekly feature Decades of (in)Experience for Antix Press, Bread Crumbs from the Void and The Fucking Funnies for Five 2 One Magazine, and Mr. Butterchips for Drunk Monkeys.

Stalk him at http://alexschumacherart.com/