Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just Breathe

I have pages in two different people’s hands right now, and my “new” first chapter is posted on Critique Having new people read your work is exhilarating and terrifying. And I’m very lucky and happy to have people that are browsing through my words, and helping make them stronger.
But it is full disclosure time. I am never more neurotic than when I am waiting on a review. I pray in time this will get better for the publishing business is all about waiting. I know this, and that is why I make sure that my crazy is kept internal. Well, with the exception of this post. The only reason that I share this so openly is because I don’t think that I am alone.
But you have to recognize this for what it is and not give into temptation to pester those blessed souls who have offered to read your work. To not fill their inbox with insane messages of …
--- “What page are you on?” ---
---“Nevermind, don’t read it. You won’t like it.”  ---
--- “I know you’ve had fifty pages for only thirty minutes, but what do you think?” ---
--- “Your silence means you hate it. Am I right?” ---
--- “Please love me.” ---

*Just so we are clear, I have never ACTUALLY sent any of those* :-)
Please note, my anxiety is not a reflection of the critiquers, only of my own impatience.

These people are there to help you get stronger, not to validate you as a writer. And the process of waiting is one that you must become accustomed to if you are serious about the business.

--- You must wait until your manuscript is ready before querying.
--- You must wait and query slowly—not sending a mass email to all agents who you think rock.
--- You must wait to hear back from said rockstar agents.
--- They ask for pages, you must wait to hear if they love them.
--- If they love them, you must wait for them to find the publisher that thinks you rock.
--- Found a publisher, you must wait on that much dreamed about cover.
--- Cover’s on shelf, you must wait to see if people love your characters as much as you do.

And if they do, all the waiting will make that moment all the sweeter.

No matter if it’s the wait for a critique, the wait for the words to be your version of perfect, or the agent’s email to finally hit your email box after the thirty-seventh time of you sending an email to yourself with the subject ‘TEST” – BREATHE!  Take a deep breath, find something else to do, channel your anxiety into beautiful art, and don’t forget how blessed you are to have been given the gift of words.

The choice to write can be made in a minute, but the decision to become a writer is not one that should be taken lightly. It is a journey no less difficult than Frodo’s. This business requires determination, courage, resolve, patience, strength, and wonderful friends who help put you back on the right path when one of those is faltering.

Celebrate each accomplishment. Brush off each down fall. And put your best write forward.

Much love to all of you for being my Samwise on this journey!

So tell me. What are you waiting on? Are you a patient person? Do you stress when others have your work? Or do you stay cool as a cucumber?


  1. I stress when agents have my work, but not critiquers. I know once a chapter comes back from my critique group, I can work it and make it better. But there's rarely a second chance with an agent. That terrifies me!

  2. My book is with my publisher's editor right now and I am trying so hard to be patient...

  3. I'm with VR, the agents are way scarier because you don't get a third or twelfth or twenty-second chance to change their mind about your story.

    I like your analogy of Frodo and Sam. There are parts of the journey that will feel endless and you'll want to despair. That's when "Sams" around you reminding you of "the good in this world worth fighting for" can make a huge difference.

    And hey, posting work on your blog is also a good way to garner a little positive feedback along the way when you're feeling less than confident.

  4. Patience is not my favorite virtue. So I feel your pain. Right now I'm waiting for my top choice publisher to get back to me on my full. They requested the full after reading the partial and synopsis 3 months ago and said it would take 3-5 months to get a response. I try not to think about it, but it's impossible not to bite my nails over the whole thing.

  5. Amiable fill someone in on and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you on your information.

  6. VR - I think the better term for my impatience is over eagerness. That whole "Christmas Eve, where the heck's Santa" kind of feeling. I haven't had my work in the hands of agents just yet. I'm not that far down the road, but I can only imagine the pins and needles. *shivers*

    Alex-Congrats! What a wonderful stage to be at. I bet you are a bit nervous. But you are on the homestretch. So I hear, I have no clue :-)

    Laurel- I thought of you on that Frodo comment. I was thinking of making it a live link to your Eleventy-One contest.

    Roni- I have my fingers crossed for you. Oh, and you're right in the window of when they could call. That's the worst for me. That's when I pace and check email/mailbox thirty times a day. Don't do that! haha. Always easier said than done, huh?

    Anon- I have to ask. What was the assignment?