I keep a log of my submissions with my own system of tracking. Anything that’s out for submission is in boldface: the title, where it went, and when. I still send out my fiction now and then, just to keep alive. Most publishers and agents function on the chilly “if we’re not interested, you won’t hear from us” mode. They will generally give you some time frame, such as, “we try to respond to each submission in six months.” So the six months point has arrived for one of my submissions, with no word in reply. Do I sadly click off the boldface? What if they’ve fallen behind schedule, and my work is still in the slush pile? Maybe I should leave it bold for another month. Maybe the boldface is a beacon in the dark for the desperately searching eyes of the slush pile editor. Maybe I haven’t heard back because it’s already been moved up the chain and is awaiting some editorial meeting for further discussion. Maybe I should leave it bold for, say, eight months before abandoning hope. When is hope helpful? When is hope hopeless? When does hope slide into delusion and I’m just another castaway chatting with a basketball. And, anyway, is delusion so wrong?