A Guest Post by Anne Holly
“Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite.
Or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil or a better break
or a string of pearls or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls or another chance.
Everyone is just waiting.”
- Dr Seuss
I’ve heard actors describe their jobs as mostly waiting with brief periods of action. I’ve also heard this is the common experience of people in prison, police officers, and even soldiers at war. The action might be strenuous, stressful, and/or traumatic, but 90% of the time requires patience and the skill of waiting.
Writing is a lot like that, too. We do a lot of waiting. Waiting for a book to sell, or a review to come. Waiting for a reader to finish, or a contract to be offered. Waiting for a rejection or an acceptance. Waiting for inspiration, or for energy; waiting, waiting for that break to finally happen. Waiting for a release or edits, or waiting for a cover to come through. There’s a lot of waiting. And worrying.
Writers need patience.
We also need endurance, of course, since writing is a physically taxing and rigorous job. Typing for nine hours straight, sweating blood over phrasing and trying to keep everything clear in your mind until you can get it down, these are not just mentally fatiguing, and are also bodily labour.
But a lot of the time, that endurance is about waiting, and not reacting to the wait.
Mostly, the waits are horrible. Waiting for a break, the writer can become quite despondent, watching other writers “make it” while your book still languishes. Waiting for an acceptance email after submitting a manuscript can turn you into an obsessive “refresh” clicker. Alternatively, you could be the pessimistic type and wait for rejections, which can be equally agonizing.
So, how does one wait skillfully?
Good examples of how not to wait can be found all over Twitter and Facebook, with writers swinging back and forth between tantrums and whining. Some can get quite bitter. I’m not talking about a few “man, I wish they’d get back to me” status lines, but all-out rants and bursts of awkward unprofessionalism. Writers are human, and I don’t doubt most of us do these same things once in a while, but some things are best done in private.
Instead, most writers learn how to wait patiently, given time, once we realize this is our lot in life. When the dreams of interviews with Oprah and fawning book signings fade away, and we embrace the less showy and dreamy realities of our work, we tend to learn the art of waiting.
Some writers will tell you to fill the waiting times with promoting. But, I’ve learned this is the way to madness. Promo is the least fun part of the job, and isn’t always fruitful.
For me, learning to use the waiting times productively has been essential. Mostly, I read and I write. I gorge myself on books for a period after a submission, and enjoy refreshing my mind with other peoples’ worlds and words.
is a rather rare treat during the writing process, for me, since I’m kind of
pressed for time. So, in between works, I indulge myself. I also write while
waiting, often things that I have no intention of publishing. Fun things,
strange things, things that let my mind wander free. Reading
And, then, one day when my mind has been fed on books and relaxed with unfettered creativity, I return to the next project.
I have dealt with waiting by realizing that a finished book is no longer my concern. Certainly, I am pleased to hear from it now and again, through acceptances, reviews and sales reports and so on, but it’s done. It’s gone. It has left the nest. Now, there is only the Next Book. Waiting for the previous book to move no longer makes sense once you understand this.
So, on to the next book, because a truth remains in this business: you’re only as good as your next project.
Happy reading, writing, and living!
Anne Holly is a Canadian writer and author of the novels Strings Attached and Textbook Romance. Anne has published four romance titles, five erotic-romances and one paranormal erotic story, and has been published by Wild Horse Press, Decadent Publishing, Rebel Ink Press, and Pink Petal Books. She is looking forward to releasing her Rebel Ink shorts in a paperback and ebook anthology called All I Want: The Anne Holly-Day Collection in October 2012, and, as always, is working on something new. She is a teacher and mother, and currently resides in
can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@anneholly2010) and GoodReads, and visit her
blog at http://anneholly.blogspot.ca. Ontario
Strings Attached: http://annehollystringsattached.weebly.com/index.html
Textbook Romance: http://textbookromance.webs.com/