I had forgotten what a hassle it was. Years ago, I used to do it regularly. Print story, print cover letter, envelope, SASE (international reply coupon if necessary). Stand in line. Pay the money. I used to let manuscripts build up, so that I had a pile to send out together, which would inevitably result in a collection of rejections arriving around the same time. My record was four in a week, I believe. I used to be able to tell if it was a rejection by the size of the envelope returning, but I was occasionally misled by those editors who would return your first page to you, as if that was a sign of how far they had read. But at any rate: I used to visit my post office a lot with flat brown envelopes. I often wondered if they talked about what I was doing after--it was fairly easy to see where I was sending them, what with the titles of magazines and publishing houses and occasionally the word editor on the front, but they never asked me. Perhaps they knew better than to ask. Perhaps there is an endless stream of authors just starting out and trudging up to the post office with their work, and the staff have learnt not to ask them about how it goes. I can just see that page in the manual: WARNING, followed by a little picture of a man or woman holding a manuscript and a red circle with a cross through it. DON'T ASK, it says.
But things have changed, and I am, now, in a position where I can look back and say, 'Oh, yes, back when I started, you had to submit by mail all the time,' which is just tragic, when you think about it. Maybe I should get a stylish cane.
There is no real point to that memory. I'm quite glad that I can email manuscripts, now, and that my printer gets used primarily when I'm editing what I've written (I edit very poorly off the screen and, as people will tell you, I edit my own work poorly to begin with). Email cuts down the cost, for one thing--submitting overseas was always an expensive adventure, and I was always submitting overseas, simply because there were more markets over there. I got some real nice rejections from overseas editors in my mail. Australian editors ranged between form rejections and that delightful checklist that Aurealis had, so that rejection could be quick and done with a tick, and if you're lucky, the right title of your story at the top. There were a couple of American mags that did that, too, I think. I have a few. But overall, I have to say, there's nothing better than being able to click that attachment button, send the email off to the editor, and know that if (and sometimes when) it gets rejected, it didn't cost you any money.
I'm all about putting it into perspective, you understand.