Waiting: another side of the writer’s life

As writers, we constantly write.  Or we talk about writing.  Or read about writing.  Or talk about reading or writing.  You know what I mean.  From time to time, we also talk about the business of writing–the querying, the submitting.  If we’re lucky, we get to talk about the publishing and promoting.  We all tend to like one phase more than the others.  Everyone’s different, so everyone likes different phases.  All of these activities can happen simultaneously and they are all very active.  On the other hand, there is the waiting.

Waiting a huge part of life too, and while it looks like you’re inactive, you’re not.  You’re always waiting for something and that’s not easy.  Some waiting is hard.  Waiting for an idea or for your first sentence or phrase is annoying, but we all have that and usually we forget about a few lines into whatever we’re writing.  You’re active during this time too, trying things on, tossing out words just to see how they fit.

But then there’s waiting for contracts and proofs, for answers to questions about proofs and contracts and whatever.  You wait for blurbs.  You wait for cover designs.  You wait for your babies to come into the world.  I find the hardest kind of waiting is the waiting from the time you submit something until the acceptance/rejection arrives.  It’s a great period of “I don’t know what’s going on.”  I mean we all know what’s going on, but we don’t know what anyone is thinking.  It’s part of the process, and a very necessary one.  Having done both a stint on the lit mag and the university press when I did my MFA, I understand what’s going on and all the necessary and careful work involved.  Still, the waiting makes me uneasy.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  Having to wait.  Having to wonder.  It’s different from post-acceptance waiting because pre-answer waiting is open ended.

Sometimes I have that urge when I haven’t gotten anything for a while to just get it over with and reject me!  It’s not a healthy urge and one that I actively fight when I feel it coming over me.  I’m not one to write very often to an editor to query.  In fact, for years,  I would never write.  I sometimes do if it’s been a really long time, but I usually don’t.   Waiting is one of those things that we didn’t talk about in my MFA days.  I suppose we all took it for granted.  Being in waiting mode, though, is a good thing.  It means all the possibilities are still open.  If I’m being Zen about it, I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.  Waiting still is not easy, but I’m getting better at it.

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