Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Making Use of the Waiting Time

 Almost a month ago, when Emily Rodmell announced she was leaving Love Inspired, 40 of us became her publishing orphans. 

Okay, that sounds a bit dramatic, but it got me to thinking, so expect this post to be a bit of a philosophical ramble. 😉 I hope you'll stay with me and share your own thoughts.

Change is a reality of the publishing industry (not that we have a monopoly on that - change is a reality of life). And as the Bible tells us, 

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

I'm showing my age here, but when I started to think about this blog, this song came to mind. (The Byrds - "Turn, Turn, Turn."

But reality or not, change can be hard. It's a time full of uncertainty, challenge, and  often waiting. 

It's the waiting that's often hardest, isn't it? Whether it be a medical diagnosis, an exam result, or a new editor. In the words of Tom Petty:

The waiting is the hardest part
Everyday you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

So what do we do in that waiting season? As I contemplated this post, that's what I zeroed in on. 

What matters is not the waiting itself, but what we do in the waiting time.

A friend recently gave me advice: Don't stop writing! (That came from her personal experience. Last year, she'd stopped writing during the five month wait to hear from a new editor, so it was a case of Do as I say, not as I did).

Don't stop writing.

That's one of the keys to success in this industry, isn't it? Don't. Stop. Writing.

Because the waiting time isn't going away.

Hurry up and get that contest entry done - and then wait months for the results.

Hurry up and get that proposal done - and then wait to get approval.

Hurry up and get that book submitted - and then wait months or even years to see it published.

So what is a writer to do in the waiting time?

A. She could languish - waste precious time wallowing in the wait.

B. She could refill her creative well - read and experience life so there is freshness to write about.

C. She could continue to write.

If this was a multiple choice test, the only wrong answer would be A. The best is probably a combination of B and C. 

If we are in agreement that not writing is wrong, then the question that follows is how do you keep motivated to do that?

When the road ahead is murky, when you can't see where it leads (and pray it's not off a cliff!), how do you make yourself keep going? How do you keep those fingers on the keyboard?

We often talk about how lucky we are to live in a publishing era where we have options. And I think maybe that's the answer. That's what makes the waiting easier. We have options.

Not sure whether you'll win that contest or get a contract? 

Not sure if your editor  (old or new) will like your voice, your plot, anything about the book at all?

The important thing to remember is, even if those come to pass, you're not out of options. There  are other publishing houses or you can Indie publish it.

In other words, there is only one way to guarantee your book will not be published - stop writing it.

I promise to listen to my own advice.  Will you?

When I went to Bible Gateway to copy the verse from  Ecclesiastes, I came upon this verse of the day:

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (New International Version 

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

It felt like a particularly appropriate balm and reminder to my doubting heart, because as writers of Christian fiction, we have that ultimate assurance that whatever change may come, however long we wait, God is good and our trust remains in Him, not in the whims of the publishing market. He will light our way.

Please share your thoughts or experiences. How do you handle the waiting time?

All photos from Pixabay.


  1. I admit that I don't handle the waiting time very well. I basically stopped writing a few years ago when life got hard and now that I think I'm ready to come back to it, starting over is even harder,. Thanks for always writing encouraging posts, Cate. I hope your waiting time is productive and meaningful.

    1. Good morning, Glynis. Thank you for your kind words. I understand exactly where you're coming from. I, too, stopped writing during some very stressful years when I honestly couldn't find a creative thought to save my life. Getting back into it is hard, but the one lesson I learned is to just start. The act of writing really is a habit, and like any other habit, the more we practice it, the more natural it feels and the easier it gets. Good luck to you as you restart. Just remember, you have valuable words to share!

  2. I wasn't sure how many writers were affected by Emily's career change, but 40! That is a lot of writers left treading water until they can get anchored again!

    I'm ending a three month hiatus - actually, more like five or six months since I really haven't really gotten any writing done since the release of my last book in October. Partway through this time, I stepped back from trying to force the writing. Instead, I concentrated on reading and plotting the next couple stories, and I turned my hiatus into a sabbatical.
    Now that I'm past several hard issues and recovering from surgery, I'm looking forward to getting my life back in April.

    1. Amazing, right Jan? That was a lot of people to divvy up amongst other editors. I think they're all a bit overwhelmed right now, but they're also really enthusiastic.
      You really have been in a difficult time, so it sounds like the sabbatical was perfect, even if not your first choice. I'm so glad the surgery is behind you and you can move forward.

  3. I have pushed past my writing lull and I did enter the Genesis. I am looking forward to writing again. Cate, how does this work now for getting a new editor? Do they assign one to you or do they have to hire someone new to do that? I wish you luck.

    1. Oh! Good luck with the Genesis, Sandy. Winning that years ago gave me a real boost of confidence. I hope it does the same for you.
      Tina James was really efficient and she had assigned us new editors even before Emily was fully out the door. I've had the chance to have email and video meetings with my new editor who is lovely. The waiting game now is just to see what she thinks of my new proposal - and that will take awhile because of all her new authors.

  4. Great post, Mary Cate. Back when I first started submitting, I played the waiting game, biding my time doing anything but writing. But I quickly learned that was the wrong approach. I needed to move on to another project and keep that momentum going. Being stagnant was no longer an option. Especially once I was published. BTW, I've had four different editors since I've been with LI. Yes, it can be unnerving, but it's always been a good experience.

    1. I did the same, Mindy. Hopefully I learned not to repeat that mistake. I really like my new editor, so hopefully this will be as good an experience as yours were.

  5. Those changes are so hard! But your advice to keep writing during the waiting is spot on! I wrote during a waiting time, and that book eventually got contracted and published! :)

  6. I can't imagine the waiting periods that authors must endure but I have had times of waiting in my own life. Waiting to see if I would get the job that I applied for, waiting to get the results of a breast biopsy, waiting to know if my daughter's late-life pregnancy would endanger her or her baby. The job wasn't that important in the scheme of things but the other two were very important and prayer was necessary and trust was essential. I know that you know this also and this is why I choose to read the books that you and other Seekers write. Reading is essential for me and the books that I choose need to reflect my own beliefs. Thank you for giving them to me! And yes, I have the Byrds singing in my head right now!


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