One thing I’ve discovered since I started writing books is that I have absolutely no ability to be patient.
Let’s start with the definition according to Merriam-Webster:
patient (adjective): able to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people
Yeah…I’m not sure that there is a single strand of DNA in my whole genome that contains “patient.”
Unfortunately, I’ve chosen to participate in a business that requires patience if sanity is to be maintained—not that I’ve ever been accused of being remotely sane. But I do see that my journey would be a lot less stressful if I would strive to attain at least a smidgen of patience.
I am a person who constantly pushes herself to achieve, constantly trying to keep the momentum moving forward. That’s all very well and good, but in publishing, a writer is simply going to have to wait.
She has to learn that sometimes stories are better if finished and then set aside for at least a short time. This gives the writer a chance to clear her mind, work on something else, and return to the story with a new eye—a more critical and precise eye.
She has to learn that editors are in a constant state of what I can only call “drowning.” Think about an editor’s job. Sure, she reads books, offers her opinion on things that would improve them, and helps catch grammatical errors. That’s probably the easiest part of her labors. She also had to screen queries—sometimes hundreds of them a day—and choose which ones have piqued her interest. From those, she narrows it down to a few she wants to read. Then she had to go through those, trying to find the needle in the haystack that represents a book she wishes to acquire.
But we’re not done yet.
Next she has to write an acquisition report, present it to an acquisition committee, and hope they see things her way about the story she wants. Only if it’s accepted does she get to do the editing.
What a writer needs to remember is that she is not that editor’s only author, and if queries or submissions don’t come flying right back, that doesn’t mean the writer is out of luck. It means she needs to work on something else and be patient. The editor will get back to you in her own good time. Sending emails inquiring about status is only going to slow her down. And if I were that editor, it would probably make me shove your query or submission to the bottom of the pile or toss it in that proverbial “circular file.”
In a writing career, there will be times where the action has cooled. There’s no new book scheduled to debut. There’s no manuscript waiting on edits. An agent is working through a proposal. And many, many more things will make it seem as though there’s an unacceptable lull in the action. Deal with it. Don’t sit and angst and hover over your email, hoping for something to change. Put that stress to work in a positive way. Write. And write some more.
I preach this with great authority because I’m horribly impatient. I start to panic if I realize there’s nothing on submission or that I don’t have a new book scheduled to release. So I’m going to try to take my own advice and BE PATIENT.
Let’s see how that goes…