For all the waiting in publishing, the worst is realizing you aren’t waiting on anything.
I’m paraphrasing, but that’s a quote from one of my wise writer buds, Dahlia Adler. And it’s extremely accurate, I think.
I recently finished the first draft of my latest manuscript. I wrote it faster than any other manuscript I’ve ever written — 92,000 words in about 10 weeks of part-time writing (and full-time working and life, of course). Not because I had a crazy deadline, but more because the thing just shot out of my fingertips. I couldn’t write the words fast enough, though no one was really waiting on it.
I’m happily blitzing through revisions now, but soon, very soon, the wait begins.
First, the wait to see what my critique partners say.
Then more revision.
Next, the wait to see what beta readers say.
Then more revision.
And the wait to see what my agent says.
Then (probably) more revision.
And finally, if I’m lucky: The wait for my book birthday (probably a cool 18 months to two years after signing a contract).
There is a lot of waiting in this profession. No matter your chosen publication path, chances are that if you’re a writer, your patience is constantly getting a decent workout.
As writers, sharing our words with others is a fabulous joy. You love your work and you instantly want others to enjoy it, too.
That wait to share it can be just a few minutes to edit and post a rough scene on a blog.
Or it can be months on end, playing the query game, waiting for an agent to love it.
Or it can be during submission, which, by all accounts, is a special level of check-your-email-and-your-phone-every-freaking-minute torture.
And then there’s the wait we all hope to go through, whether we chose traditional or indie publishing: The wait for your manuscript to become a real, live book, thanks to editing and formatting and a fancy cover.
Yes, waiting is universal. But as Dahlia points out, you can’t wait unless you’ve actually finished your manuscript.
How do you deal with the waiting?
Sarah, I do so understand that. I guess I deal with it by mostly putting it out of my mind and going on with something else, whether it's writing or some other thing. That doesn't mean it's not always nagging at my mind, though. I've had a lot of years at this waiting phase. It's one of the reasons I went the indie route, but then again there is still waiting there, too. In my case it was waiting, waiting, waiting for my cover. But it was all worth it in the end. And there were those exciting days when I heard a short story or poem had been excepted, too. That's when only my writing friends could totally understand the joy one feels.
For me, the easiest way to deal with waiting is to be working on the next thing.
I always have at least two projects going so even while I am waiting for the ink to dry on the first draft so I can make it into a second draft of one, another project is always at hand.
I've done the waiting game and know that it may all come to nothing. No holding my breath. I'm wondering all the while if there something I could change or add to make the manuscript better. I'm convinced that even when you think you are through, you're never through. Waiting is work. Good luck on the ms, Sarah.
I'm also a tinkerer, E.B., I have the worst time not just tweaking a manuscript, even if it's "done." Just can't do it. Thus, I'll most definitely end up editing the ms even more while waiting for my CPs and beta readers.
As for what I'll do when my agent has it and I can't touch it? Exactly what Jim does. Something new always helps in distraction! That's how this ms got itself written in the first place.
Gloria, I'm sure waiting for a cover is excruciating! And it is a joy. This whole field is a joy, even with the waiting.
Jim's right--the best way to deal with the waiting is to get to work on the next project.
The only real problem with that method is that sometimes I'm so immersed in the new project that, when I hear back about something, my reaction is "Huh? Did I really write that and send it off?"
Sarah, I love the picture you've included with your post. That's the perfect representation of time when you're waiting. Good luck and may you get happy answers!
Thanks, Paula! It's a Dali painting that I love. I studied abroad in Barcelona and went to the museum he created for his artwork. It was insane and insanely fun. I'm wondering if Dali knew the waiting game as well as writers!
KM, yes, that's totally true. I'm very distracted with this side project.
For me waiting is one of the toughest parts of this whole process. The only way to keep myself from going insane is to stay busy with other projects.
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