For years, I was obsessed with tracking my submissions on Duotrope. I’d log in every day–sometimes even multiple times per day–to see if magazines had responded to other stories that had been sent in after mine, and I’d stare at the statistics and try to intuit whether my story had been passed up for more consideration. Which was all a complete waste of time, of course, since it didn’t materially improve my chances of selling the story. What’s more, I knew it was a waste of time, and I resented myself for giving in to the obsession. Finally, when most of Duotrope went behind a paywall, I refused to sign up, and the rejectomancy died down.
Eventually, though, I signed back up for Duotrope, because I felt like the available free options weren’t quite as good when researching literary magazines. And, for awhile, I was worried that I’d slip into old habits. But I haven’t. Like right now I have a few submissions out, and I thought about logging into Duotrope and seeing whether my submissions were out for an unusually long period of time, but I was like, ehh, whatever.
It’s strange. We have these behaviors for so long, and they seem like such an integral part of us. But over time, they disappear or mutate, and even though it’s indicative of a major change in our orientation towards our work and our future, it doesn’t really seem like a big deal, because: a) it happened so gradually; and b) we can’t really remember how obsessed we used to be. At this point, it seems crazy to me to spend so much time worrying about this stuff–to the point where, when other authors tell me that they do it, I tell them that what they’re doing is unhealthy–but for a long a time this sort of obsessing
seemed not just natural, but inevitable.