Friday, April 29, 2011

Patience, My Young Padawan

That's really how you spell "padawan." I may have had to look that up...

Anyway, today I wanted to bemoan talk about how much patience is needed in the publishing industry.

This can be answered in one word: Lots.

But see, if you're like me, you just don't believe that you'll have to wait. That you'll have to endure weeks of nothing, no answer, empty silence. That happens to other people. People you don't know, and don't want to.

But not you.

Strap in. It will happen to you. You'll know when it's happened because Friday becomes the worst day ever, because it means another weekend with still no answer. Trust me, I've been there.

Lemme tell you a story. When I first started trying to figure out how to publish a book, I read a lot of industry blogs. Someone said they'd taken a year off from writing just to read. I scoffed mighty loud. Yeah, right. Take a whole year off? This person was clearly insane (and no, I don't remember who it was).

See, it wasn't going to take me a year to do anything.


How I needed a Jedi Master to explain patience to me. Someone to tell me that a year is nothing in publishing. NOTHING. It's like a single blink.

I needed someone to tell me that how long it takes to get published is not a direct measure of my ability, but that many factors--including luck--will play into that equation.

I needed someone to remind me that the year of publication doesn't matter. No one did. I was always in a hurry. I still am, sometimes.

I needed someone to tell me to keep writing. Someone did. I still follow that advice (sort of) when I'm waiting, waiting to hear about something.

I needed someone to say, "Patience, my young Padawan. You'll get there."

People did. And now I say it to you. You will get there. I don't know when. And that doesn't matter.

Patience.

How are you doing on the whole patience thing? Those of you who've been at this for a year, two years, five years, how have you developed patience?

64 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's so true. But hard to hear when you're going through it. I was not patient waiting to adopt my daughter.

I've come to realize in many parts of my life that things happen when they're meant to be and I think it'll happen with getting published too.

Artemis Grey said...

I've developed patience by sheer force... because otherwise my head would have started spinning around on my shoulders by now as I plow onward through the querying process in my attempt to find an agent and get into the publishing industry... which as you've stated, will only require MORE patience...

Em-Musing said...

Patience...only by distractions do I survive.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

ooh, I like this post! I struggle with this also. I don't have any wisdom, but I agree - a year is nothing. Very hard to explain this to non-writing friends though!

J. L. Jackson said...

I've always said I was a patient person, but I lied. Lol no, not really. I've prepared myself for the wait. Reading and research has been a huge help.

Renae said...

Great advice Elana. Patience is not one of my strong points. And you are so right, when Fridays roll around I cringe at the thought of waiting an entire weekend to hear any news.

I manage to distract myself with my kids and other projects. What else can we do?

Marisa Hopkins said...

Great post, Elana! And I'm glad you followed the advice to keep writing (well, sort of :) ) even while waiting!

I'm not a patient person. I have no idea how I shall endure it when I actually reach query stage and beyond. I guess the best I can do is try to wrap my head around the idea of the long, long journey now, before I even get there, and hope the wait doesn't make me go insane! And in the meantime, I'll keep hacking away at my book! And then the next.

Carrie said...

It's hard to be patient. I stay patient by remembering that spending time writing and trying to get published is something I'm doing for myself.
I feel like there will always be time for me to do other things but I think the sooner I write and make it to publication the longer time I'll have to be a writer.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

i like fridays, because it means i don't have to be worried when i check my email. Though last weekend i did get a response on Saturday

Matthew MacNish said...

This is why, talks backwards, Master Yoda does. Required, patience is, when listening to his wisdom.

Kelly said...

Hard waiting is.

But a necessary dark side in this business.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Patience seems to come easier when accompanied with fear. :)

I just recently took a year off after writing for seven years. Yes, I read a lot, but it was more for family duties, and you're right, it's like a blip in time.

Edie Ramer said...

I never developed patience. By the time I ran out of places to send out my book, I was usually halfway through my next fabulous wip. I was always positive that this book would be the one that would get me multiple offers.

In the end, I finally self-published my books. And I'm very happy. No more waiting.

Great topic!

Katie Mills said...

I've been querying one project or another for the last two years but I've finally sat down and strapped in for the long haul with my current project that I'm querying because I BELIEVE it is worth waiting for and can make the cut. I have no patience either but this whole process has made me more and more patient as time goes on.

jmartinlibrary said...

Yanno how much your posts pick me up just when I need it? A LOT.

Anita Saxena said...

I try my best not to think of it so much as waiting, but enjoying a very slow journey.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I suck with the patience thing. But I am getting used to the waiting. Sort of.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I haven't developed patience so much as learned to forget I have submissions out there. If I don't remember them, I don't worry about them and maybe one day I'll get a happy surprise in my inbox. (Of course, I still remember from time to time and angst over them, but I'm trying to forget.)

Laurel Garver said...

So, so true. And for the impatient types, I recommend diversifying into poetry and flash fiction. It's quicker to finish and polish pieces and there are loads of literary magazines willing to give you a short term publishing "fix" (to borrow the stoner term). I've been kept from quitting by small victories like a published poem here and there.

Chelsey said...

Teach me, wise Elana for I am already struggling with impatience. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

Five year anniversary this month. Like you, I had no idea how long this journey would be, how many manuscripts it might take, how many books I needed to read, how much I had to learn.

Now I do. And I've learned patience.

Mostly.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Good advice.

I handle it by keeping busy, and trying not to think about it. Sometimes, it works, and sometimes, I check the mailbox and my email 50 times a day.

LM Preston said...

Patience is a good thing to have - when you are young, lol! I am not getting any younger, so I have to move my own mountains. But hey, if you have time to wait for things to happen, then by all means - do so. I've tried to have patience, but I'm just not wired to do so. It's worked out for me in amazing ways and some not so good ways.

Hannah Kincade said...

Let's just be honest, I hate waiting. I'm impatient. It's not the most endearing quality but there it is. So I distract myself and I'm distracted very eas...

T C Mckee said...

Patience is a hard thing to come by. When I first starting writing, I had none. Now, I don't put so much pressure on myself. I'll get finished with my WIP when its ready to be finished, then I'll query my way down my list of agents, and seek medication for the duration of the wait. Kidding, totally kidding. Guess I'll just bite my nails.

Paul Greci said...

Hey Elana, great post. Patience.....I don't have any easy answers. I'm happiest when I'm engrossed in writing a book, it's inbetween projects or when I get stuck--that's when the thoughts about whatever I'm waiting on start pinging my brain like depth charges dropped on a submarine. Well, that might be a bit dramatic--I just read a book that was mostly set in a submarine so my head's down there in the depths.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I think the publishing industry has made me a more patient person. Go figure!

I'm with Paul. If I'm immersed in a project I'm in love with, I forget about the requested material I have out or the outstanding queries. I only remember them if someone asks about them. :)

LTM said...

what is this patience thing of which you speak? ;p

Janet Johnson said...

Patience is a funny thing. In a way, it's kindof forced on us. We find patience whether we like it or not. :)

But yes, I'm getting there. Slowly.

Bane of Anubis said...

The instant gratification/ADD era has ruined any semblance of patience I may have had as a womb-child.

It's nice just to march forward, ignoring/forgetting past failures or current struggles, but unfortunately I ain't programmed that way... Love the Paulo Coelho quote:

"Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering."

Ben Spendlove said...

I've always hated the word padawan.

Stephanie McGee said...

I'm avoiding learning that lesson by not trying. Granted, I don't think any of my books are ready for that query stage yet, but still. I'm somewhat avoiding it.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Does it offend you to know that the very first thing I did when I opened your blog was find Matt's comment.

Amanda said...

I have no patience whatsoever. But you're right. A year is NOTHING in publishing. And trust me, people, you're ALWAYS going to be waiting on something. First, it's the agent. Then, it's the sale. After that it's edits, copy edits, cover art, blurbs, and ARC's. After that, it's the release, reviews, and sales. And after that? Well, it pretty much starts all over again.


Luck follows the persistent. And the patient. :)

Wendy Paine Miller said...

May the force be with you!

Kick A post!
~ Wendy

Tere Kirkland said...

The longer I stay at it, the more patient I get. When I first started writing, I was chomping at the bit to query, even before the ms was ready. I learned a lot.

Now that I'm agented, I can see more clearly how slowly the publishing world moves, and also how, interestingly enough, it's about timing and luck. So all the speed in the world--rushing through first drafts and rushing to query--isn't enough to make it happen faster.

It's best to enjoy the writing, which kills the time while you're waiting! ;)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Argh! I deal with it by living in a big bubble of denial. I pretend it's no big deal to wait. I pretend it doesn't matter to me, because I have all of you. I pretend "it will happen". Basically, I pretend a lot of things. :-)

Carolyn V said...

I'm not that good at the whole patience thing. I need to do better. (I totally want that book done NOW! See, no patience.)

celticqueen said...

lol I developed patience because the publishing world beat it into my thick skull, plain and simple. Sure I still get impatient. But I seem to deal with it much better. I've finally gotten to the point where I KNOW it's just going to take a long time. And me chomping at the bit is only going to give me an ulcer. :)

Impatient tendencies still crop up, all the time, but it's getting easier to squash them back down. And really, time does start moving faster.

From the time my book was picked up to the time it hit the shelf was a few weeks shy of a year. It didn't feel that long. That year went QUICK (yet slow at the same time if that makes any sense at all LOL)

Bottom line, yeah, you need to figure out how to deal with waiting if you want to do this whole writing thing :) Because there is a lot of it in your future :)

celticqueen said...

lol I'm apparently signed in under my other account :D celticqueen = michelle mclean ;-)

Candyland said...

I'm no good at it. And I don't think I've gotten any better over time.

Michael Offutt said...

I'm in no hurry. I've been focusing on weight loss.

cherie said...

My kids taught me patience. If you've met them, you will quickly learn patience too. Prior to motherhood, I was the most impatient person. Ever. Couldn't wait.

Now? I still yell sometimes, and tap my foot, and tear my hair...but. I can wait.

I CAN wait.

Heather said...

My patience is a work in progress and I'm thankful to have had people like you in my life who have taught me about it. ;) Some days are better than others. Like you said, Fridays are awful but Monday's are great. Never thought I'd say that before I got into this! LOL! Thank you for the inspiration, just when I needed it.

Kristen Knight said...

This is a GENIUS post. And I now totally agree with the year-off-for-reading idea. Hmmm. Guess I'm not as unique as I'd hoped. : )

Tracey Neithercott said...

I'm terribly impatient, but I'm also a perfectionist. When it comes to writing being a perfectionist > immediacy. Which is why I won't rush to query even though I really, really want to.

Krispy said...

So because I'm an unabashed Star Wars geek, I got all giddy from your post title. Haha.

But yes, patience is a good thing to cultivate, especially in this industry. I'm totally like you in the whole - I won't have to wait as long - frame of mind, but I have to remind myself to stop being delusional. :)

Chris Phillips said...

It's hard to be patient because of others' exceptions more than my own.

Amber Argyle said...

Gah! I loathe that word. It's like when I played basketball and my coach would say, "On the line."
Which basically meant we were going to run until we puked.

I get that same feeling whenever someone tells me to be patient.

But I do it. Just like I puked my guts out.

ajkulig said...

Ahh patience. Something I seem to lack these days, but I think I've already used the little I have had for other things.

I don't think I could take a year off for reading. That's because I wake up, and I want to write. I go to bed at night, wishing I wasn't so tired so I could keep writing. BUT I already read an average of 3 books a week, and with 4 kids I dare you people to read more ;)

I'm not sure a whole heartedly believe in the 'e-book revolution' but if a person can write a book, revise, edit, and make better with other people, hire a qaulified freelance editor, and do all their own marketing-- in such a SMALL amount of time, you would hope that the publishing world could move just wee bit FASTER. I wont be holding my breath as I wait years for sequels.

Jeff King said...

I have no choice but to wait, so what good would it do to add more pressure and worry about it. If it happens—fine, if not—I’m still fine. Either way I will be happy and thank god I am healthy and my family is loved and provided for.
Writing is my life, in the sense it means a lot to me and I strive to be the best I can… but it doesn’t define me, it just what I love to do.

If I never get published, then a million people will miss out on a good read, other than that… no big deal, RIGHT?

IanBontems said...

Thanks, Elana. I needed this. I'm like you were, I guess. So much so, I found I was nodding as I was reading this post.

I thought I was taking too long (still do), and that people are whizzing by while I plod on far too slowly.

I've only been at this for two years, so you could say I still haven't developed that patience thing yet. But at least I'm aware of it these days.

Jo Schaffer said...

Pateince is for wimps. Where is Chuck Norris when we need him! Booya!

Seriously though-- patience is a virtue that will make everything in life better. My youngest son has taught it to me better than anything. He is special needs and he is my hero--everything takes him twice as long-- but he gets there. (=

Roxy said...

My patience has grown into resignation. I like to think it's a zen state of waiting. Or patience with a stoic edge. Not that I'm sitting on my laurels. I'm writing and revising. And being patiently resigned . . . :)

Pam Torres said...

Since I've always been a late bloomer I totally get the patience thing. I get caught up in the energy of everyone at different levels and that energy turns into urgency and then I feel like I'm treading water in army boots. Never enough time in a day, did I write enough today, am I in the conversation online enough...on and on. At some point I take a deep breath and remember that I can only swim as fast as I can and that is enough. Great post!

Karen Lange said...

Seems like the theme of life is "hurry up and wait". But most of the stuff we're waiting for is worth it. Okay, usually, anyway! Like your book for instance. I'm thinking it's worth the wait. :) Happy weekend!

RaShelle said...

ROFL - Elana my friend, patience is like my F Word. It's difficult.

Oh and BTW, 5DAYS 4HOURS AND 25 MINUTES UNTIL STORYMAKERS!!! Can't wait to see you. YAY!!! LOL

Melissa Sarno said...

Oh goodness, I have no patience. None. This industry is ridiculous. The best part is that I'm currently impatient because I'm not done with the 1st draft of my WIP yet. Even the parts I DO have control of take a long time and are causing me anguish!

Medeia Sharif said...

I used to be impatient, and this business forced me to be patient. It didn't come naturally.

Alyssa said...

patience seems to be used in a lot of things not because you want to but its needed. it seems to be a nessity no matter what your doing.

Angela Ackerman said...

I think my patience comes from pure stubbornness. I have invested so much time and energy into this, I refuse to quit.

I also do the Lottery test. If I won the lottery tomorrow and was set for life, would I still write and try to get published? You bet your ass!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Matthew MacNish said...

Comments seem to be off on your new post, so I just marked it - profound.

Dee said...

I'm so like you! I started researching how to write a book, something along the jewelry making scene, but I got so overwhelmed I stopped, couldn't believe how much work it was and I didn't want to wait I wanted it to happen...now!! I'll revisit the thought several times before I finally take the leap.

Patti said...

I've definitely developed a lot more patience over the years, especially now that I understand the industry a lot better.

See Elana's recent blog posts

Recent Posts Widget