A Year on Saturn

...is approximately 29.7 Earth years.

"A Year on Saturn" is the website of Shannon Fay,
freelance and fiction writer.

Query Blues

Posted on: November 2nd, 2012 by Shannon Fay No Comments

So I have a story that’s been out with The New Yorker for over five months. Five months as far as literary markets go is nothing- there are probably stories out on submission to the Paris Review that were submitted during the Eisenhower administration.  However, I’m a genre brat. I’m used to markets like Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Super Hella Quick Reply, places that only need a few days to decide that your story is worthless. Why should it take the New Yorker 3-18 months to figure out something that most sci-fi slush readers twig onto half a cigarette into reading my stories? But whatever, that’s their speed.

In fact, I’ve been kind of enjoying this prolonged wait. When I can’t sleep at night and my other ‘can’t fall asleep games’ aren’t working (mainly trying to contact Vladimir Nabokov through my dreams) I imagine what it would be like to be published in The New Yorker. I’m sure I could wring free drinks out of it for at least a year. If I was published in The New Yorker things would just magically fall into place. When cars sped through puddles I would somehow stay dry while all the (non-published in The New Yorker) people around me got soaked. I could put it in my online dating profile.  My favourite food would always be on sale at the supermarket (faux-pepperoni tofu slices? Yes please!). And plus, I would have a story in the New Yorker.

But after five months I decided it was time to stop living in this fantasy world and face reality. The New Yorker usually takes 90 days to get back to people so I figured it was a safe time to query. I typed up a short and simple e-mail explaining that I had sent a story in on June 1st and I wanted to know whether it was still under consideration or if I could send it elsewhere (I also included a PS about how much I loved Semplica-Girls).

As soon as I clicked send I realized I had just made a huge mistake. The New Yorker. New York. The day I sent my query the whole Eastern seaboard was being pummeled by Hurricane Sandy. At least forty people dead. Power out in whole cities and uncountable property damage. The Daily Show postponed for two nights straight. That was the kind of things the staff of TNYer were dealing with. And I had bothered them to check up on a story.

I thought of sending them a follow-up e-mail, something like “Hope you’re all okay! Sucks about the storm, but maybe you’ll be able to get some good cartoons out of it.” I held off, sensing that it might make things worse.

So, arrgh! My story is still in New Yorker limbo, and I don’t think I’ll be hearing back from them soon. I just hope it’s because they’re busy and not because I’ve been filed under ‘insensitive idiot.’

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