I’ve come up with what I believe is a new phrase for writer’s like me: “sender’s remorse.” This is the condition I enter just after I have hit “send” and realize I should have added to, changed, or edited my work in some way. Someone once defined a “split second” as the time between when the light changes green and the driver behind you honks his horn. Sometimes for me a split second is the time between when I hit “send” and the instant when I realize I forgot to change the title, spell-check, or add that most appropriate quote. After my latest submission, remorse didn’t hit until hours later when I was lying in bed at night. I suddenly remembered I had wanted to add a mere five or six words to the essay. But, stupidly, when I first thought of that slight change, which would have made a great difference in the tone of the piece, I neglected to jot it down on the manuscript. I thought, despite all past experiences to the contrary, I would remember to make the addition. Of course I would. Only I didn’t. Not that the essay isn’t pretty good as it is. But it could have been better. Yeah, I know we writers are always editing our work, constantly seeing new ways it could be improved, even well after it’s been published. But this was such an easy fix. And I had plenty of time. The deadline, which had been Oct. 31, had been extended for a month. I could easily have waited another day or two before submitting. But I was just so darn anxious to add it to my submission log. Too anxious. And I pay the price.
This is one of my worst faults as a writer. There are two writers of my acquaintance, not well known names, who don’t have this problem. They work many months on each piece. And it shows. Their writing is the most brilliant I have ever read. I told one of them, I’d give my “write” arm to be as good as he is. [yes, it’s a terrible joke]. But that’s not what it takes. Thomas Carlyle said, “Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.” I don’t know if I’ll ever learn–to pause, to give it time, to control my impatience.
The problem is that once the manuscript is gone, it’s gone. There are a minuscule minority of online journals that allow re-submissions of the same piece. I’m lucky to blog at WordPress, where, the instant I hit “publish” I can go back and “update” a post if I want to. But that’s rare. So, I’ll just have to hope for the best on this latest work, absorb the lesson if I can, and focus on “next time.”