1.) Select a site that you hope will feature your writing. Following their guidelines, make sure to embed the submission in an e-mail. Upon checking to make sure it sent correctly, realize that Gmail has horribly butchered the formatting of your piece, which now looks like it was written by a drug addict using Webdings.
a. In the less likely event that you’re submitting to a trusting editor who prefers attachments, you’re in luck – no formatting problems for you! You can just go ahead and send over a professionally worded e-mail, then realize 3.6 seconds after hitting “Send” that you forgot to actually attach anything.
2.) As you scan your horribly disfigured work, now floating adrift in the internet’s ether and completely out of your hands, make sure to find a glaring typo that you somehow missed despite five rounds of proofreading.
3.) Immediately begin to mentally craft the horrified response you will undoubtedly receive from the site’s editor. Make sure to imagine a rejection e-mail that abandons any sense of professional decorum or human decency. Foresee the editor expressing not only disgust at your pathetic fantasy of writing for his site, but also a general repulsion and/or nausea regarding your inexcusable inclusion in the human race.
4.) Envision your name being circulated to various writing outlets in a red circle with a diagonal line slashed through it and the words “DO NOT PUBLISH” scrawled underneath, like that time you got banned from Taco Bell and they put up a “DO NOT SERVE THIS MAN” sign with your picture on it.
5.) Futilely search for that feature AOL used to have where you could unsend an e-mail before the recipient read it.
6.) Reread several of your favorite pieces on the site just to confirm that your submission really is as heinously awful as you fear. Realize that you probably would’ve had a better shot if you had converted your work into a list that could be turned into a slideshow. Like, instead of titling it “My Journey Down the Dark Corridors of Depression,” you could’ve gone with “My 41 Coolest Suicidal Thoughts” or “The 63 Most Awkward Facebook Statuses I Posted During My Time in the Mental Institution.” Because everybody loves lists, you moron.
7.) Although you supposedly submitted your writing “just for fun” and without any expectations, start refreshing your e-mail browser several times per hour to check for new messages. You can try and convince yourself that it’s just to see if inbox favorites like Southwest Airlines or CVS have contacted you with any new irresistible offers, but you know the truth.
8.) Weeks pass; eventually, you’ll receive a nondescript rejection e-mail explaining that your submission doesn’t fit their needs at this time (but wishing you the best!). Your post-submission shame now a distant memory, submit the piece to three other sites. This time, you even get the formatting right!
9.) But, you forget to fix the typo. Repeat steps 2-9.