Friday, November 11, 2011

Waiting...Extreme Waiting

Recently I've heard lots of talk about something authors are all too familiar with: waiting.

In the old days (at least this is how I imagine things) an author working in a solitary aerie would pound the keys until completing a masterful tome, and three days after mailing a box of loose pages to Major New York Publisher, the MNYP editor would call with great news: "This is a best seller! It'll be out for the holidays!"

Today, we write for a year, maybe two; we share with our critique partners; we revise; we send to our agent; we wait; we hear from agent and revise again; we wait; we hear that agent has received "no's"; we wait; we hear from an interested editor; we revise for editor; we wait; the book goes to committee; we wait; the book sells; we wait; we revise; the book's launch is bumped; we wait....well, that's the idea. And that's if you're lucky enough to have an agent who eventually sells your book.

Recently Steve Mooser of SCBWI crafted an excellent editorial in the Newsletter asking editors to be mindful that the new policy of "if you don't hear from us in 3 months, we aren't interested" is, well, cruel. That policy is hard on authors who sit on pins and needles, waiting, hoping. What happens after 3 months? How should an author feel? It's disheartening and enervating. I agree with Steve, though I don't know that this policy will go away any time soon.

So I've learned to think of this in a new way. Personally, I don't wait well (part of my anal control-freak nature). So I don't wait. I work.

The minute a manuscript goes out the door, in whatever direction, I begin or dive back into a new project. My own MO is to work on a very different type of project - say, moving from YA to MG or from historical to fantasy. I have to put the other work out of my mind, and in fact I look upon the waiting as a gift. A gift of time to start something new, to be creative, to read things I wouldn't read otherwise, to go back to my pile of craft books for new inspiration, to meet with colleagues, to catch up on publishing trends, to improve my craft.

I propose a new author game. Let's call it Extreme Waiting. Extreme Waiting is energetic and thrilling, rather than tedious. Extreme Waiting is a time of growth, development, renewal.

What do you say? I'll meet you on the keystroke. Let's go for the gold!


Anonymous said...

That's excellent advice! Waiting around, twiddling thumbs and starting at your cell phone or your inbox so hard that it feels like your eyes are on fire does no good. I'm not in the book market right now, but I have a lot of short stories out making the rounds. If I just sat on my computer, refreshing until I got the next rejection, I would go MAD! Plus, working while waiting means you're one step closer to getting a new project out the door!

Janet Fox said...

Exactly! Especially since the wait times have stretched to infinity...

Thanks for coming by!

Anonymous said...

God yes! Anything to save me from obsessive compulsive e-mail checking.

Janet Fox said...

I know, Rhonda. It can be awful. Sometimes I like to try something completely new - really get outside my comfort zone, because, well, why not?

I've had some wonderful surprises working that way.