ON PATIENCE

blackboard from Mr Squiggle

Hurry Up!

I’m not naturally a patient person.

I’m too much like my father who used to sit in the car beeping the horn and revving the engine waiting for us kids to finally get ready for school. Most of the time I feel like Blackboard from Mr Squiggle tapping my foot and grouching, “Hurry up! Hurry up!”

And then I decided to be a writer. A job where everything takes years. I mean it years! It’s one job where patience really and truly IS a virtue. You’ve got to have the patience and tenacity to sit down and write your way through a whole first draft. Then you’ve got to put it away somewhere and not look at it for months. That’s the bit I find hardest and why I have such a backlog of manuscripts now. To keep myself busy I start on the new project.

Trouble is that sometimes you need empty space and time, lots of it, to let ideas mull around and turn into something new and original. The more impatient you are, the more you push your writing, the more likely you’re going to come up with clichéd ideas, plot lines and characters.

Once you’ve waited and fixed up that first draft and reworked it over a year or two and finally sent it out to agents or publishers the real waiting begins. It takes months to hear back from publishers and mostly they don’t like you sending it to anyone else at the same time. This means you can be waiting up to six months for a rejection before you send it out to the next place. And you thought the writing part was hard.

Waiting to hear back from readers is excruciating too. Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird talks about the agonising wait to hear back from a friend about a recently dispatched novel manuscript. In the intervening days between sending them your story and the time it actually arrives in their mailbox you’ve already decided a hundred times that they hated it. Loved it. Stole your idea!

Patience, dear writers. Patience.

I’ve learned more about patience through this writing business than I ever cared to. But finally Thrill Seekersis coming out. I promise. In just a month or two a box of my own books will arrive on my doorstep. I just wish they’d hurry UP!

Mr Squiggle

Mr Squiggle says be patient!

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