The Patience Game
I’m busily working away at revisions on the second POLTERGEEKS book, STUDENT BODIES. It’s not an arduous task other than going through each change your editor has made and accepting that change one at a time on MS Word. That’s a bit time consuming. Still, it gives you ample opportunity to smash your forehead against the desk because you caught something you probably could have changed and that your editor has called you out on. Yes, revisions are a game of patience – with yourself, with your creative process and with your overall vision for a book.
Actually, being an author is all about patience – for me, that’s a challenge because patience has never been my strong suit – ask my mother. I’ll bemoan the time it’s taking to hear back on a project when I’m talking with Mum on the phone and she will remind me with all of her 79 years of wisdom that I was never a patient boy. Thanks, Mom. (This generally reels me back in.)
I have the benefit of starting out trying to get published in an era before social networking, email and the Internet. As mentioned in this blog post, it’s taken me two decades to get published. The process of typing a manuscript on a typewriter instead of MS Word with all of its time saving functions, forced you to try harder to get it right. The process of researching publishers and literary agents required a trip to a bookstore or the library so you could get your hands on a copy of The Writer’s Market and then researching publishers, going to the bookstore to see what they published … all of this took time.
Then came the querying process via snail mail. You had to have the right paper, You needed that self-addressed stamped envelope. You needed a good letter (obviously), you needed postage and ….. you needed time which of course required patience. It could take up to a year to hear back … assuming you heard back at all. And if they wanted your story for a looksie … you had to type the damned thing out and mail all 100K words in a box. And again, it could take next to forever to hear back.
Flash forward to 2013 and there are websites that do everything The Writer’s Market did. There is email. There is Facebook and Twitter – agents and publishers are on there. You can do everything with a click of a mouse … but you still have to be patient.
Each day, I’m amazed by some of the dumb things that writers do via social networking. It’s one thing to follow an agent on Twitter. It’s another to query them in 140 characters … but people do it. Some even Tweet snarky comments aimed at the agent who might have rejected their query or their submission.
Really. I mean … really?
Fact 1: A writer had to be more patient 20 years ago.
Fact 2: A writer still has to be patient in 2013.
Fact 3: Writers by their very nature are impatient people.
So I guess where I’m going with this is to say to all unpublished writers is that your ability to channel your lack of patience into a future work is probably the best thing you can do with your anxiety. Patience is part of this game – jeez, I have four books published and a fifth one in September … I still need to remind myself to be patient.
Don’t be snarky with agents and publishers via social networking.
Don’t waste your time looking for the hidden meaning of an agent’s Tweet – he/she probably has other clients to manage before he/she gets to your query.
Do keep writing.
Do keep it together. If you don’t, you’ll go nuts.
As for me, I’m going off to my day job now. After more than two decades of this … I’ve learned a few things about what I have control over and what I don’t. But I still keep on writing. And so should you.