Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Kingdom for a Stamp

I’m very close to getting my 100th rejection. Yay! Almost time to order the cake (I’m picturing a black forest cake with those little number candles. Mmmm.)

Out of those ninety-something rejections I’ve gotten only a handful of them were postal submissions. Most of my stories have been submitted through e-mail or online submission systems. I like living in a digital age: with e-mail I get almost immediate confirmation that the magazine received my story and sometimes even a tracking number to see how far along in the queue my story is.

The other thing I like about e-mail submitting is that it costs me nothing. I don’t have to buy paper or ink or worry if my printer is going to conk out on me. I don’t have to use an envelope and go to the post office to mail it. I don’t have to include a self-addressed stamped envelope in order to hear back about my story.

Ah, the SASE. A bit of a tricky business when you live in Canada and most of your markets are in the U.S. Canada Post is not allowed to sell U.S. stamps (or any other country’s stamps for that matter besides Canada’s) so on top of paying the two bucks it takes to mail my submission I also need to buy an International Reply Coupon for five dollars, which means that each postal submission costs me $7.00 to mail (and that’s before factoring in cost of paper and ink).

It’s a shame, because there are a lot of markets I like that only accept postal subs. I’d love to submit stuff to Fantasy & Science Fiction as often as I do to Asimov’s and Analog, but the cost has always made me hesitant. I’ll grit my teeth and do it, but it hurts.

I needed American stamps. I quickly came up with two plans of action: 

1. I have a very good friend, Lisa, who lives in Arizona. Lisa is an amazingly kind person and she’s also one of the first people I crow to when I have even a little bit of success with my writing. She’s not only one of my first readers, she’s also been reading my stuff longer than anyone: I’ve been sending her chapters of novels and short stories since we were fourteen. I sent her a Facebook message telling her my dilemma ($5 per IRC!) and begged her to send me some American stamps.

2. My dad travels around a lot for business. Any given week he could be anywhere from Cape Town to Geneva to Shenzhen. My parents have always been supportive of my writing, so I told my dad that I needed American stamps and asked him to pick me up some next time he went through the states.

Both Lisa and my dad came through for me. Lisa sent me a set of five ‘forever’ stamps with Pixar characters on them (Sooo cute. Each stamp shows a set of friends from one of their movies). My dad brought me back a little roll of 20 stamps that he had to rush around New York City to find (did you know they don’t sell stamps in U.S. airports anymore apparently?).

I’m super excited to have so many stamps- when you go from nothing to a lot, it’s hard not to go a little stamp crazy. I’ve already used some to send off a story to F&SF and I’m going to get back on the horse of sending Woman’s World stories. Having the stamps is not only going to save me a ton of money but hassle as well.

But the stamps mean even more than that to me. They reminded me I have people in my life who care about me, who support my dreams and want me to succeed. Not every writer has that. As valuable as the stamps are, it’s the people that got them to me that are the real treasure.     

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