• Top 5 Reasons Why I Miss Submitting By Mail

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 1 comment


    Yesterday I listed five reasons I miss getting rejection slips in the mail. For today I promised five reasons why I miss submitting hard copies of manuscripts, or five reasons why I miss the TV show Hard Copy; and the very last thing in the world I would want to be considered is a breaker of blogged promises.

    Hard Copy has been off the air for over ten years now, and Gmail and Submishmash have almost totally replaced mailing addresses in submission guidelines. Saves trees, saves stamps, saves time. But does it save our souls? (What?!)

    Here are the top five reasons why I miss submitting hard copies of my writing, and why I miss the TV show Hard Copy:

    1) The look and feel of a printed-out manuscript

    Holding a hard copy of something you wrote is tangible proof of time well spent. The smell of the ink, the heft of the paper, the dent in the ^(*&%(* printer from when you had to kick it in its stupid face. Stapling or paper-clipping all those pages together, flipping through them to see all of those words that have poured out of your brain. It always gave me a sense of accomplishment, made me remember yet again that I’m doing something valuable with my time.

    Note: This is all before I’d start rereading the manuscript, of course; after that I would always decide (yet again) that I was wasting my life.

    2) The preparation

    Writing out the envelope, calculating the postage, double-checking the addresses, flipping through each copy to make sure that all the pages are in order. Slipping the manuscript into the envelope and taping it up, while thinking to yourself, “Here you go, you d-bag of an editor. Another beautiful piece of writing that you’re far too obtuse to appreciate.” It felt like a kindergarten project; all that taping and … well, just the taping I guess. If you were coloring, or using scissors or glue, or making a booger collage on your cover letter, you were doing something wrong.

    Ohmygod he's like so dreamy

    3) The 1996 Celebrity Boycott

    Spearheaded by Clooney, the 1996 celebrity boycott of Hard Copy and Entertainment Tonight brought the nation to its knees. Remember? Remember how devastated we were for those weeks, but how we all felt like we were witnessing history? I mean, like, real history.

    Ahh, the good old days, when celebrities weren’t afraid to speak out in public and unite behind a cause.

    4) Delusions of grandeur at the P.O.

    At the Post Office, I always envisioned the mail clerk thinking to him/herself, “Hmm, Indiana Review. Wow, this kid must be a serious writer. How cool. How brave.” It made me feel validated, like I was finally getting some recognition for being a valiantly-struggling artist.

    The fact that I needed validation from a civil servant is certainly disturbing. The fact that I still do is even more disturbing. Last week, mailing finalists for the Observer contest, I fantasized a conversation with the clerk that went something like this:

    Mail clerk: (Looking at envelopes) The Larry McMurtry?

    Duhr: Indeed.

    Mail clerk: Hot damn! How do you know him?

    Duhr: Me and Larry? We go way back.

    Mail clerk: How far?

    Duhr: Weeks. Months.

    Mail clerk: (Whistles) Oooh-weee. You must be some kinda somebody. Here, I’m gonna mail these for free. Hey everybody, come see this guy! Let us throw him some sort of postal fete.

    Instead, the actual conversation went a little something like this:

    Duhr: I’d like to mail these to Larry McMurtry, please.

    Mail clerk: That’ll be $4.98.

    5) A lifted weight

    Leaving the Post Office knowing that your manuscripts are on their way, all that hard work having led up to a moment that is now just behind you. I always equated it to leaving the building after having taken that last final exam of the semester. Or leaving the bathroom in the morning. (Fellas, I know you feel me.)

    Or turning off the television after another excellent edition of Hard Copy, knowing that Terry Murphy and Barry Nolan have sated my weekly need for TV tabloid “infotainment.”


    All right, so this list is a little thin, too. Can’t blame a guy for trying. All I’m saying is that I sometimes get nostalgic for the old ways.

    By the way, yesterday’s and today’s posts are from the writer half of me only. The editor half of me has the exact opposite take on every single thing I’ve written in the past two days. That’s right: the editor half of me does not think that Clooney is ohmygod like so dreamy.


    Discussion: Do you also miss Hard Copy, and/or Terry Murphy and/or Barry Nolan? When you read in submission guidelines that a publication doesn’t take online submissions, do you move on to the next one?


    0 0 votes
    Article Rating
    Notify of

    1 Comment
    Newest Most Voted
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments

    […] I talked about on Monday and Tuesday, the submission process has changed quite a bit in the past couple of years. Very few publications […]

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x