“Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength.” (Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton)
The most difficult part of the publishing process is the wait.
You have to wait for a reply to a query letter, to the first chapters sent, to the entire manuscript, etc. Worst of all, you may clear the major hurdles only to find that, at the end of the race, you will not be published for various reasons. And then, you must begin the querying process—again.
So, how is this writer handling the waiting game?
Stay creative. As I wait for news of my first novel, I’m not twiddling my thumbs or obsessively checking my email. (Well, not too much.) Instead, I am revising my second novel, writing poems sporadically, sketching a rough outline for a third novel, and meeting with my writing group to keep focused on all things literary.
Keep your writing career in perspective. Yes, I want to be a published novelist of several books, but it’s all the living—working full time, making meals, driving children to sports events, discussing finances, making plans with friends, playing games, walking by the beach, crying over difficult times, laughing at silly moments, praying together—that contribute to the inner life of this writer.
All those times are needed as fuel for the writer. Without the routine, without a life outside of writing, I’d have nothing to write about. Because stories are about the human experience first—even if you’re discussing aliens or snakes or wood carving or flute music. You need to spend time with real people to understand real people.
Remember the value of waiting. All my personal goals (at least the ones I care about most) require time: watching every Cary Grant movie, losing 50 pounds, and becoming a better artist. Even if I were to win the lottery or to discover liquid gold pouring out of my water faucet, I still would have to wait. You can’t quickly watch an actor’s entire oeuvre in one evening or drop weight that fast (not even with liposuction) or magically know how to draw a perfect circle. Good things take time.
Set milestones for your impatience. I’m serious about that. Recently, I sent part of my manuscript to a literary agent (at her request). Sure, now I want to check my email every minute, but I am keeping in mind that she has other inquiring writers badgering her, a roster of established authors to nurture, a family to enjoy, pets to pamper, etc. So, I’ve got to give the process time, give the agent time. I can be impatient in six weeks—not before that. To grow impatient before that is unreasonable.
Learn to discern the situation. I’m learning how to walk the line between patience and stagnation. When is the amount of time spent waiting just ridiculous? When do you need to pack up your stuff and settle somewhere else? Knowing when enough is enough is difficult—but don’t decide too early in the game.
If after all this waiting, I receive a rejection notice…. Then, it’s back to square one. The most important lesson is to just keep moving forward.