Is there anything more onerous to a writer than the waiting game? Most people tackle a project and then, well, they’re done. Not fiction writers, oh no. They “finish” their work (which could take months, a year, or even years) and send it away, only to have the really time consuming part of the job start: the waiting.
Lurking dangers surround all that waiting. Self-doubt has lots of time to imagine unkind things being said to your story’s face (and to do its own unkind muttering in your head). The desire for regular coffee money might trick you into some cave of a job where you’re paid by the hour. Writer’s block (if you subscribe to that kind of notion) is more prone to leap upon you and starting chewing on your throat—especially if what you want to write next might depend (foolishly!) on whether the circulating work sells (my advice: write like it sells, or don’t and start something entirely new—just write!).
It’s not all bad though. If you let it, waiting to hear back can be kind of like counting down to a vacation. Each passing day is one closer to at least some sort of a response, the wait gets sweeter, the anticipation builds. I’ve learned to use the hope that just won’t die (I’m bandaging my throat here as you read!) as motivation to write the next thing. While your words sit on someone’s desk, there is the endless opportunity that said words might find a home—someone might like that story, poem, article, or what-have-you. Nothing is more inspiring than the idea that someone might relate to your offerings and even (gleep!) want more of them. Exciting stuff.
I try to take full advantage of this wait/hope phenomenon by keeping 6 – 8 things “out there” all the time. That way, rejection doesn’t hurt as much (hope sprints over to another project to rest on) and my inner-creep can’t do as much of a job on my self-esteem.
Hmmmm . . . Is there a point to this post? Yes (lectures self), get your stuff out there and keep it out there until it finds a home. And in the meantime, the waiting time, get busy on the next idea.
5 thoughts on “The Waiting Game”
wow – 6 to 8 things! I’ve just begun trying to publish my shorts and my first novel. My first short was published spontaneously, but since I’ve only sent out one story to a few lit journals. I’ve thinking, gee it’s a few months – they really are that slow – maybe I should submit some other shorts. So many ask for exclusive submissions, but they take so long to answer, it can take years to even get one short published! Well, this turned into a rant!
Six to eight submissions at once is awesome! I need to do the same. I’m so impressed by your “hope that just won’t die.”
Jennifer: Thanks for posting! And gah, I hear you on the long response times. I’m waiting on a contest that closed a year ago (and it’s not a dud . . . every few months, the relevant website puts up a new “the judges are _still_ working” note). So yeah, don’t be impressed with the number of submissions I try to keep out there – it’s just my way of hoping I can maybe have one thing accepted a year. LOL.
Good luck with your own submitting and happy writing! Come by and rant anytime. 🙂
Angela: Well, I’m glad you’re impressed by my “hope that just won’t die.” My own feelings about it tend to swing back and forth between feelings like, “Hey, my determined hope is pretty inspiring,” and, “I’m obviously insane.” ;-D
p.s. You _do_ need to do the same.
You’re a real inspiration this way. I wish I always had things out there. Maybe one day. It’s good to have something to aspire to. 🙂