Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Virtue of Patience

It’s not the fall that kills you, they say. It’s the sudden stop.

And along those lines, it’s not the rejection that drains the life out of an author, it’s the waiting to receive it.

I’ve been all around the web lately frequenting places where writers hang out, and one thing I’ve noticed is, we all abhor the waiting. My friend, suspense author Jennifer Elbaum, just e-mailed me a virtual ARRRGH about the stress of waiting to hear back from agents and editors while she also waits for the results of a writing contest.

On Romance Divas there was recently a discussion thread devoted to the agony of waiting to hear something from someone about anything. We’ve all been told the best way to combat the anxiety of waiting for a response to a submission, is to write something else.

That sounds great in theory, but when you’re sitting at your computer typing away, it’s so easy to fall into that endless cycle of refreshing your e-mail every five minutes just to see if maybe this time there’s a response.

One thing authors need is lots and lots of is patience, and sadly it’s usually in short supply, especially nowadays when we live in an instant-gratification world. When you can microwave instant coffee and fast forward through commercials, when FedEx can deliver your packages overnight and dialup is practically extinct, how can you train yourself not to look at the clock or the calendar every five minutes during the three months [or more] it takes an agent to respond to your query?

Bottom line...I don’t think you can. I’ll never be Zen about waiting to hear from editors. It just isn’t going to happen. So rather than fret, I’ve decided to embrace my anxiety. The watched pot may never boil, but eventually, after hitting refresh 8000 or 9000 times, that response will be there. I know it will, so I’m just going to keep trying.

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Lynda K. Scott said...

I know precisely what you mean. I'm not sure but I think I have the longest wait record for an acceptance/rejection in the history of writing :D 7 years! I'm pretty sure they don't want the book even though the last communication I had with them is 'it's still under consideration' (ahem, that was 5 years ago and pretty much told me all I needed to know).

I'm a very patient person but I can so relate to checking the inbox and mailbox every 5 seconds. Waiting is so damn hard.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Seven years! Wow. I thought I had it bad. My first submission is still out there - sent in 2004, lost by the publisher, sent back on request and STILL never got a response. They might be surprised to find someone else actually published the story. If they call me, I'll let them down easy. NOT.

Jen said...

Great post! SOOOOO true!

If all it takes is hitting the refresh key 1000s of times, I should know by now, lol.


Savanna Kougar said...

Seven years, oh dear! Nope, I wouldn't be that patient. And that's too good about being published already. No, don't let them down easy.
Waiting is a unique anxiety all its own. One that demands frequent chocolate indulgences, and training myself not to check the e-mail to the point it gets on my nerves and makes me feel enslaved to the computer age. More, it wastes time I could be writing. Yep, it's a constant battle. Maybe I should purchase a Xena, Warrior Princess outfit, give the warrioress holler whenever the urge becomes monstrous.

Kristen Painter said...

I have no patience. Ask my husband, he'll gladly confirm this. However, waiting isn't that big of deal for me. Yes, it sucks, but there's nothing I can do to make things happen faster. Unlike when my husband and I are late for something and I can go nag him to get a move on, I can't do that with an editor. (And aren't they lucky? lol)

So, I try to focus on another project, another submission, whatever the case may be.

Or I email my agent and nag her. ;o)