The Waiting Game by Donna

I hate waiting. Some people might call it “being impatient.” My mother did. I just know I have a long history of it. Even as a child I couldn’t stand waiting. In the days before Christmas I’d try to pass the time by using my dad’s stopwatch to time my sister and me getting to the Christmas tree using two possible paths to the living room (by the way, the one down the hall past the bedrooms was faster). Sometimes I’d lie under the Christmas tree for hours to count the seconds between the blinking lights (6 seconds). And then, when I’d really reached my waiting limit, I would sometimes carefully unwrap, and then re-wrap, packages under the tree when my mom went to the grocery store and left me alone…waiting.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of waiting in the publishing world. The result is a rollercoaster of emotions. When you “finish” that manuscript and want to send it out to the world, you query possible agents (up the rollercoaster). And you wait (down the rollercoaster). Then you hear back from an agent who loves your story and wants to represent you (up the rollercoaster). She has a few edits for you. And you wait (down the rollercoaster). The edits come back, and you throw yourself feverishly into the rewrite. It’s perfect. You send it back to your agent (up the rollercoaster). And you wait (down the rollercoaster). Repeat the last few trips up and down the rollercoaster and then, finally, your agent says you’re ready. It’s submission time! (UP the rollercoaster-BIG TIME) And you wait (down, down, down the rollercoaster). I also don’t like rollercoasters.

I throw up. It’s not pretty.

Don’t get me wrong. I know there are good reasons to wait. Successful editors and agents have incredibly busy schedules. They have piles of manuscripts to read, conferences to attend, meetings to make, and deals to negotiate. That’s why they are successful and that’s why you want them. They are not sitting around, twiddling their thumbs, waiting for my manuscript to arrive (sad, but true). And agents who take their time to give thoughtful, specific editorial comments (like my agent, Mary Kole), and who want to your manuscript is be ready before it goes out on submission, are definitely worth the wait.

Knowing all that, however, doesn’t help my rollercoaster/waiting problem. Currently I’m in the “submission” waiting phase of the process. I know that my manuscript is out there on the computers of certain book editors who might, maybe, perhaps read it and say, “I love this so much I want to make it into a book.” It’s torture. I stalk them on the internet. Every time they tweet about a manuscript they just read, and loved, I’m sure it’s mine. When they write on their Facebook they are going on vacation, I just hope they have my manuscript tucked away in carryon. One writer I know suggested that I just spend the time waiting by starting a new project. Well… duh. Of course, that’s what I SHOULD do. (But remember, I’m the one who unwrapped those presents).

So I work at the job that pays for food and important stuff like that. And wait. I write blogs. And wait. I try to work on a new project. And wait. Sometimes I just lie on the couch and count the seconds between the blinking editor tweets and wait.

And I try not to throw up.

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