We all remember the Heinz ketchup commercials: "Good things come to those who wait." Did I ever really expect that slogan from my childhood to apply to myself as a writer? Absolutely not. But, I'm slowly discovering that patience and writing are not mutually exclusive. I'm trying really hard to develop more patience in these areas:
The patience to put my novel aside. Stephen King, in his book On Writing recommends putting your novel in a drawer for an entire month, giving yourself some distance before you start revision. That sounds easy, right? Not for me! I wrote the damn thing, so don't I deserve to read it? Well, here's the problem. I sent my novel to a few close friends who are daring enough to give my rough version a first read. Of course, not wanting to come across as a totally incompetent writer, I did a complete run-through of my manuscript, looking for typos and errors. Despite my hard work, I received my novel back from my sister, Heather, this weekend, and lo-and-behold, she found so many typos that I completely missed! Thank you, Stephen. I have now learned my lesson, and with a resounding thud, I'm throwing my novel back in its "drawer."
The patience to postpone sending out query letters until my revision is complete. I am so excited to start the process of finding an agent that I've already done my research and found one that I feel good about. However, as clearly evidenced above, my manuscript is FAR from perfect. Now, I'm dealing with this inner struggle: when do I send a query to an agent? Finding an agent could be a long, drawn-out process of potential rejection after rejection. (I mean, come on. Even Stephenie Meyer was rejected by several agents. I'm just being realistic.) So, do I send in my first ten pages, like most agents require, and spend the two-month waiting period working on revising the rest of my novel? Or do I polish my novel first, just to make sure my novel is even agent-worthy?
The patience to wait ... and wait ... and wait. Writing is not a career full of instant gratification. It takes time to write a novel, time to complete the revision process, time to find an agent who deems you worthy of representation, time to woo a publisher, and time to get the manuscript turned into a book sitting on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. In my agent and publisher research, a common wait time is two to three months. That's two to three months waiting to see if they even want to read more than just the first ten pages. And most only want you to send a query to one agent or publisher at a time. Added up, all that time could equal years and years of patience.
So if you have any ideas on how to develop more patience, I'm waiting ... (just not very patiently).
2 days ago