Thursday, August 13, 2009
Hurry Up and Wait
Okay, so how do I compete with Jules’ kissing post? Whoa. Oh my stars. I mean, seriously, I can’t bat in the same park with that girl when it comes to well-placed lippage going down, so I don’t even try. A good writer recognizes his/her strengths and I’m tipping a hat of praise and recognition to my friend Julie for some truly ‘inspirational’ forward momentum.
Still fanning myself.
So this one’s for Melanie because she openly recognized a problem that occurs often in this industry.
Yuck. We all hate it. We all experience it. And one of the toughest waits of all is when you’re thiiiiiis close to reaching the gold ring, the gold medal, the blue ribbon but it doesn’t happen quickly enough to suit us.
Treasure that time. If we all yammer about God’s timing, God’s plan, God’s godliness, then we’re flying in his face to out-maneuver him. In general it frustrates us and amuses him. Not that I begrudge the good Lord a laugh at my expense. He’s had plenty. BUT…
Why do this to yourself?
Waiting is a part of this business. We experience that with the first contests we enter. Some contests take months to announce finals, and then more months to announce winners.
Here’s a shocker:
You’re not Priority One on their lists. Same with editors. Agents. Art teams. Marketing crews. Booksellers. Learning to wait, to follow God’s curve, is clutch or you’ll drive yourself and your family crazy. It’s hard to write if your otherwise sweet, loving husband Jimmy Hoffa’s you for:
5. Can’t use that word here but you all know what it is
Hey, we’ll be glad to come to the funeral AFTER the local police exhume the remains, but in the meantime, there’s a better way.
All right, stop groaning. Are ya’ kiddin’ me? You knew where I was going all along, didn’t you? And yes, there are OTHER ways to pass the time, but you can’t do those ALL DAY, especially if you’ve got kids, jobs, appointments or a limited libido. If that’s the case, see Julie’s post below. It should help.
I work on multiple projects at once, in varying stages. Because I work two jobs I have to respect the clock and use my time diligently. The minutes at the computer must pay. My minutes away from the computer must pay.
Not on your life. I love it. I’m pushed to create, submit, edit, plan, create some more because I don’t have idle time. I love to write. This is a life-long dream, a long-awaited opportunity, the moment of truth, the beginning of a new stage and phase, the life of a published author.
OH MY STARS!!!! Do not get caught with your pants down (metaphorically speaking) when that call comes. Have a stockpile. Have two. Your fingers should be cruising keys every chance you get. The hard drive should be humming the little train’s mantra…
“I think I can, I think I can…”
Aimless waiting accomplishes nothing. Idle hands/devil’s workshop, etc., etc.
I like to write one book while laying down tracks/notes for an upcoming book, series, etc. Loose moments can be quick research finds, bookmarking pages, grabbing ideas, photos, whatever I need to help me ‘cement’ the next book in my head because I’m a SOTP writer. No big outlines, fuzzy boards, pics, music, Post-Its, sticky notes.
Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Zip.
I do write a quick overview in my “Notes” file, to cover the basics. It might be a page. Half-a-page. Two pages. Remember, I said “quick” overview. And I keep a name file because I tend toward repetition.
Too much organization scares me. Really, I’m breaking out in hives thinking of it. Who’s got Benadryl?
So I’m writing one book, researching another and letting a third ‘rest’. Imagine bread dough rising. I’m much better at final edits if I walk away from the book and immerse myself in something else for a couple of weeks. Then I return to the finished book after it’s had time to ‘rise’, edit one more time on the computer and then hard copy edit.
If you’re the type that thinks hard copy edits have gone the way of the dinosaur, I disagree. And maybe it’s just me. Probably so. But I find so many of those goofy, little mistakes when I sit and read on paper as opposed to a gray-screen. I notice repetitive phrasing, words, missing periods (not the pregnancy kind), spelling mistakes, etc. And there aren’t many by that time, but enough to need one last sweep of the broom because unprofessional manuscripts are… unprofessional. They should be as squeaky clean as you can get them before that big send-off.
And then you wait. But not really, because you should be knee-deep in another project already. Remember the one you started while this one fermented? It’s so much easier to jump back and forth if you’re already in the thick of a plotline than trying to formulate one out of your head with nothing in the works. That’s the kind of thing that dead-stops you right there and you start spinning wheels.
No time for that.
Alleviate the waiting. (and hence the whining, grumbling, stewing, fretting, etc.)
Keep multiple projects churning. Remember, this isn’t a hobby, it’s a job. Do your job. (Nora Roberts, slightly paraphrased for Seekerville ears)
Focus forward. Editors, agents, contest coordinators and judges are busy. That’s why there’s a suggested time period. If you’re expecting your manuscript to be the one that flies off the desk, into the editor’s hands, and into production in two weeks time, yeah, well…
Take a right at Utopia and meet me in Nirvana.
Use this God-given time to make yourself better, stronger, more saleable. Some of my kids were track stars. (Read: encouraging mother. Okay, make that pushy mother, I can own that) The track mantra is:
Citius. Altius. Fortius.
Swifter. Higher. Stronger.
There’s a reason the Olympics use this as their slogan. To be the best you must run with the best. Put in the time. Be patient, work hard. And then harder. Because if you REALLY love this, this whole writing gig, you should be embracing that next project full speed ahead.
And if you’re not, come on by, grab some coffee and we’ll have Mary be nice to you while I offer a swift kick. One way or another, we’ve got your back.