There’s a saying that success in writing comes from those who persevere. Generally, it means sticking with it through writing, editing, re-writing, submitting, rejections, etc. But there’s another kind of perseverance that doesn’t often get talked about. Waiting.
There’s a lot of waiting in publishing. Whether you do indie publishing or traditional, you’re going to wait. You’ll wait (albeit while writing) for the draft to be finished, for the comments from critique partners and beta readers. You wait for responses from agents to queries (sometimes you get a response, sometimes you don’t). Once you’ve signed with an agent, you wait for responses from publishers. Once you sell your book to a publisher, you wait for edits, for cover art, for advance reader copies, for release day, for reviews, for…
It’s a lot of waiting.
Here’s where I admit something that maybe I’m not supposed to admit. I am terrible at waiting. Oh, I cover it well. Strangers may look at a serene face and think, “Oh, she’s got this waiting thing nailed.”
Yeah, it’s a lie. Inside, I’m seething with anxiety. I imagine the best outcome. Followed immediately by the worst. This is not limited to writing. I do this for just about everything in my life: test results, doctor information, school information for my kids. You name it.
I hate waiting.
The good news is you don’t (well, rarely) wait forever. You close that query as “no response.” The agent says, “It’s just not for me.” The doctor says, “The test is clear.” The school says, “You didn’t get accepted.” And there’s a feeling of relief. You may not have the answer you wanted. But it’s an answer.
Recently, I entered PitchWars, a contest run by Brenda Drake that pairs up writers looking for an agent with agented writers. The goal is to fine-tune that manuscript for the agent round where you may land that coveted prize: an offer from an agent. I submitted my manuscript on August 15. And I promptly forgot about it. I didn’t stalk Brenda’s web site. I didn’t stalk the mentors I’d subbed to (much). I didn’t stalk the Twitter feed. I got one request for the full manuscript and a synopsis. I rejoiced, sent it off, and once again put it from my mind.
Until last Friday. That’s when I looked at the calendar and realized it was August 28. Only a few days before the big reveal. That’s when I started stalking. Looking for hints from the mentors I’d subbed to on Twitter. Fantasized about getting a magical “congratulations!” Told myself to be real. I had a single-digit chance of selection. I probably wouldn’t be chosen. I should make my plans for September 3 because they probably wouldn’t include working on revisions from my mentor.
Still, the waiting was horrible. Brenda released the list of chosen mentees the night of September 1 – a day early. Despite telling myself I was not going to rush, I’d check the list on September 2, I impatiently waited (there’s that word again) for the website to load. I scanned the list – repeatedly.
I wasn’t on it.
I would be lying if I said the outcome was anything but dispiriting (at least a little, regardless of what I told myself). But there is also a sense of relief.
I took the plunge. I put my book out there. I got very nice feedback. And now I can take a deep breath; in the words of a tour guide from Universal Orlando, “And we’re moving on!” You know, right after I glut myself on chocolate.
That period of waiting is over. I am, once again, in control of the ship. What I do next is in my hands. I have an answer and I can build from there. It’s all good.
Of course, the next step will mean more waiting. Perhaps I should stock up on the chocolate.
Mary Sutton | @mary_sutton73