Patience is a Virtue?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
This is my manuscript.

So... the editor I hired has had my manuscript for a week. I even hand-delivered it (Margo was at a book signing) so I know exactly when she got it. This is what I expected * to happen:

  • On Sunday evening, after having my bulldog-clipped stack of papers for only 24 hours, I figured Margo would email me something like this: "Sioux, your story was so enthralling, I stayed up all night reading it. I could not put it down. DFS came to check on my daughter--I was hotlined--because I neglected my little girl completely--that's how compelling your manuscript was." This did not happen. However, she also didn't email me on Sunday to say it was a steaming pile of poop, that the stench was evident after only having my manuscript for a day, so I should be grateful.
  • After having my story for a week, I daydreamed that Margo would email me to say, "Sioux, this is such brilliant stuff, and incredibly, it needs absolutely no editing. It's perfect just the way you've written it. I have connections with several publishers. I am going to meet with them and insist that one of them offers you a publishing contract. Thank you so much. I feel privileged to have been able to read such brilliance." That didn't happen either. 
Lesson: Editing takes time. I've spent more than a year and a half on this story. After "giving birth" to this baby and then handing it over to someone else, I should be grateful that they're not just doing a cursory examination of my work. 

Thinking of how difficult it is to be a patient writer, I stumbled upon an article. It seems I'm not the only writer who's chewing on my fingernails while waiting for a response from an editor/a publisher/my writing critique group members--whoever is reading my stuff. I then found another article . In it, Blake Powell insists that if I don't have patience, I'd better develop it, and quickly.

My restlessness made me remember a submission I'd once sent as a prospective piece for an anthology. The editor wanted the pieces emailed. The next day, I got a response. It was a no. I forgot exactly what I said when I replied, but it was something along the lines of, "I have another piece I could submit." Another reply came back immediately.

"Please don't send anything else to us." Wow. I got the message. I'd wanted to hear soon, and I did, even though it wasn't the response I was looking for.

So... I'm wondering. How do you handle it when impatience starts creeping in? What kind of self-talk do you engage in while you're waiting

* This is what I expected in my daydream-y life... just like I expect that some day I will get Jodi Picoult's level of notoriety and money. Can't you see Don Quixote tilting at windmills, Ed Ames is singing "To Dream the Impossible Dream" and I dream?

Sioux Roslawski was not patient when she was a kid, either. She did everything like she was "killin' snakes" (which I guess comes from the fact that if someone is scared of a snake and is hacking at it with a hoe, it's done hurriedly). If you'd like to read more of Sioux's stuff, check out her blog.


Joanne said...

Sioux, I wish I had your sense of humor! To your question about what you do while you're waiting... I try to find additional markets for whatever piece it is I've sent, so that if one rejection comes back, the piece is already somewhere else where it might get accepted. Then, rinse and repeat. If it comes back rejected several times, I take another look and seeing it "cold," determine if it needs another edit--or just a different market. Good luck with your manuscript!

Renee Roberson said...

As someone who has worked with Margo before in this capacity, I had to chuckle at this. She is thorough and will give you great developmental feedback, but it won't be in a 24-hour turnaround time!

It is funny how quickly an agent or submissions editor can decide that "they will pass this time."

You have taken a very important step with your manuscript in enlisting professional help, and I know you will find success probably not long after you find the ever-elusive patience we're all looking for. Keep going!

Carol Coven Grannick said...

I do not like waiting. The emptiness of it stirs things I'd rather not feel. And so the only way to handle it for me is to send out other work to more places - not because I "should", but because of the exhilaration that comes when I do. That's way better for my well-being than the anxiety and perpetual emailing-checking of waiting.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Sioux, WOW also has a great article on patience: "10 Ways to Play the Waiting Game and Win It!" by international freelancer Mridu Khullar Relph. She provides actionable steps you can use right now.

You definitely want an editor to take her time to review everything in detail. The excruciating waiting will come when you submit to publishers or agents! And then when it gets picked up by a publishing house, get ready for at least a year of waiting to see it in print. Our business is terribly slow.

Since we both already know your manuscript is brilliant and bound to be a bestseller, you can use this time to create a marketing strategy for it, build your following in the genre, and get on the social media networks we've both been avoiding. ;)

I'm so glad you've taken this important step! I love how you're keeping us updated on your process. Good luck on this round of editing!

Mary Horner said...

I would like to say that I always send out something else immediately while waiting, but my brain is too busy creating scenarios that are very similar to yours! A great post that every writer can relate to!

Margo Dill said...

Hahahahaha! I promise not to take forever. :) How about I send you an update in a couple of days and that will put your mind more at ease? :)

Margo Dill said...

Also, I have to agree with Renee. I'm a little slow. :) But I really do read every single word and sometimes read things twice. Or I read something and then want to think about it before I go back to the manuscript. This is why I also will never be able to work for one of those crazy editing sites where work is turned over in mere hours.

Sioux Roslawski said...

J. Glenn--Lining up other markets for a piece--while you wait--is a great idea.

Renee--Thanks for the encouragement. I agree. Hiring Margo was the right thing to do.

Carol--Yes, doing SOMETHING--anything--is better than just waiting.

Angela--OMG. You mean there might be other times I wait? Really? ;)

I know. I want Margo to take her time and do a thorough job. But I also want an instant proclamation of "It's brilliant." In other words, I want my cake and I want to eat it, too.

Mary--So, if we got together, I guess we'd take turns spinning crazy scenarios? (And thanks.)

Margo--No need of an update. In writing this post, I was just delving into my head, which I guess is a scary place. ;) Take your time. You're the professional. You're in demand because of what you do and how you do it. Just do it, and don't even give a second thought to my impatient nature.

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