I hate waiting.
I know, I know. You’re probably saying, “but Jim, you should never hate something because hate’s a strong word.”
And you’re completely correct. Hate is a strong, harsh, and deplorable word that should only be used in the most extreme of circumstances. For example, I finished a James Patterson novel the other day and I said, “I hated that book.” That example would show that I really, really disliked that novel. That example would also be a lie because that would imply that I still read James Patterson novels. Which I don’t.
All of that to say, I hate waiting. Unfortunately, waiting is an essential part to the author life. Once you submit your manuscript or query to a publisher, you typically have to wait 60 to 90 days to hear back from them. When I first submitted my series to the first publisher (for all you new readers, that was an entire kerfuffle of its own) I checked my email constantly. I had the Gmail app on my phone and set notifications so that when I received a new email my phone would ding. Do you think that stopped me from logging into the app and clicking refresh every few minutes? For all you that said no, then you win a free imaginary chicken dinner! I checked the app every half hour for the first two days. It got to the point where I would wake up, use the bathroom, log into the app, then went back to sleep. That would happen every few hours.
As time dragged on, I checked my email less frequently, but the urge was still there. After a few months and no response, my hopes began to shrivel up like slugs under a salt shaker. It was during one of those late night bathroom experiences that I read my acceptance email. I was so ecstatic. My waiting was over and I was soon to be a published author.
Oh course once you wait and then finally receive that acceptance letter, that doesn’t mean that the wait is over. No sir, you’re waiting has only begun. I waited a year before I was released by the publisher (like I said above, it was an entire kerfuffle of its own). Then I was forced to find another publisher and submit the series to them.
Cue the anxious email checking. And of course, it happened that way. Even though this time I knew that I wouldn’t receive a response until months later, I still checked multiple times a day. I still performed the late night bathroom and email checks. I still jumped at the sound of that new email notification.
Waiting is something that doesn’t just pertain to an author’s life. It’s part of everyday life. Everyone has to wait for something. It could be a book response, your turn at the BMV, attention from the person you’re interested in, or an oven preheating. We all wait for something.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways,” states Psalm 37:7.
Even if you’re not the religious type, you have to admit that The Bible has amazing advice. Have any of you tried to “be still?” It’s not that fun. It’s that other part that gets me sometimes. “Do not fret when people succeed in their ways.”
I see that all the time. For me, it’s hard to not become jealous when I see another author succeed where I’ve failed. It’s tough to wait for that response and then get it only to have your dreams shattered. Lately, I’ve been struggling with that. I’ve sent out submissions and wait, only to have them rejected. I try and not become discouraged, but it’s tough. You put yourself and your work out there only to have it denied. Sometimes I feel like I should just give up entirely and quit submitting.
“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil,” Psalm 37:8 continues.
All of my fretting as I waited for the publisher’s response caused me to doubt myself. As the days waiting grew longer, I began to worry. Worry would then turn into fear. So when I get those rejection letters, that doubt has already infected me.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering,” said Yoda.
I know, this is a weird column this week. The Bible and Yoda quotes.
The point of this odd column is that we all wait for something. You must be vigilant during the waiting process. Don’t let your mind wonder to those feelings of self-hatred and loathing. Fill them with something that uplifts yourself. Don’t fall to the dark side like Darth Vader.
If this didn’t help you with your waiting problems, here are some obligatory cliches that might aid you:
• A watched pot never boils.
• All things come to him who waits.
• You usually have to wait for that which is worth waiting for.
• If you wait, all that happens is that you get older.
Categories: Mastering the Craft