Friday, May 15, 2015

The Wait

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a focus on youth and young adult ministry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

John Lennon's song, Beautiful Boy, contains lyrics that say, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

I dig this. I think he actually stole the quote from writer Allen Saunders, which is interesting because I can't read this quote without thinking about the writing life. It's not just the busyness of making other plans that can pull your attention away from life, and for a writer, I think this statement is equally true.



I've done my bit to this manuscript. I've written and edited and accepted feedback and made changes and I've read the thing no less than a zillion times. 

And then I sent it off. 

And now I wait. 

Again.

One of the best pieces of advice I've picked up along the way is to settle in for the long haul. Cause that's what writing is. It's one heck of a haul. The writing itself can take forever, of course, but if you think you're slow, wait till you see the snail pace of the industry. 

When you consider that the books publishers are acquiring RIGHT NOW won't actually be published for a year or, more-likely, eighteen months, you begin to understand just how cog-like this machine is. And writers, well, we're only one cog. 

Another piece of advice I've picked up (and clung to, really) is that as writers, we should do at least one thing a day that makes us FEEL like writers. I've warned you all about my memory and I cannot for the life of me remember where I picked this tidbit up, but it is crazy helpful while you're twiddling your thumbs and waiting on another person.

Because it's very easy to let the wait GET YOU. What does that look like exactly? When the wait gets you? A little like this:

You send your manuscript off (to an agent, or editor, or crit partner, whatever) and then what do you do? You cozy up in front of your computer (or iPhone or tablet, whatever), you open your email and you  . . . hit the refresh button. And once more. And then maybe you check your FB or your Instagram and then you tab over to your email and you hit refresh again. Because it's entirely possible that your notifications aren't working. 

And then maybe you have to pee, so you hop up and do that. You're being very mature about this waiting thing, so you leave your electronic device of choice on the arm of the couch while you take care of business, but when you're all washed up, you realize it's been like four whole minutes so you speed walk down the hall (because mama yells when you run in the house) and you . . . wait for it . . . you hit refresh again. 

Lo and behold you have an email! You know who it's from? Joe's Crab Shack. Free appetizers with your next purchase! Woohoo! You deflate a bit as you drop to the couch and though crab legs start to sound yummy, you tug the blanket over your knees, settle back and . . . you hit refresh again.

This is just one of the ways waiting can get you of course. Some of us get sick to our tummies or crawl into bed for days or binge-watch Sherlock (not entirely a bad thing), but I'm thinking you'll know when the wait has taken on a life of its own.

My advice is to steal my stolen advice up there, shake off the blanket, and DO SOMETHING that makes you feel like a writer. For example, you could:

write a blog post

offer to critique a pal's work

read a book on the craft of writing

read a novel (this is research, writers!)

attend an author's book signing

research writing groups in your area


brainstorm a new story

start writing that new story

take a writing class (they offer them online as well)

meet up with a writer pal and talk books and the journey and dreams and SHERLOCK

There are oodles of things you can do, but whatever you choose, don't fall into the whole sit-refresh-repeat cycle that can actually devour your gut. Trust me. You'll be much happier if you remember that life happens while you wait. Let the wait remind you that you've accomplished an amazing feat. You've earned the right to give someone else a shot at your work. Don't allow the refresh button to define those days or weeks or months. 

Live. Do stuff.

Give yourself something new to write about.

Tell me, what do you do while you wait?

22 comments:

  1. While I'm waiting, I usually get started on my next book, organize my writing folders, or reread my favorite scenes in my on-submission book to remind myself that it's awesome (querying can be a very tense time and, at least for me, doubt can begin to creep in).

    Thanks, Mrs. Dittemore!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes. Doubt. Doubt loves querying authors. We must fight back.

      Delete
  2. Can I just say I love this? I usually handle the wait by... forgetting about it. At my stage of writing, I'm expecting a liked-it-but-not-for-us, so if I do nothing while waiting for it, then I accomplish nothing in the end. So I practice. And practice. To turn that liked-it into a loved-it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I LOVE your attitude. Such a great place to be. Keep writing, friend.

      Delete
  3. Such a great post! I'm usually pretty good about staying busy while waiting for things. I always have a project to work on. I love these ideas, though, and especially that one word piece of advice--LIVE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you stay busy! Life, right? Always life.

      Delete
  4. This exactly. It's so tempting sometimes to sit around and mope and hit the refresh over and over and over, but wouldn't it be so much more fun to get up and do something? Easier said than done a lot of times, but making a conscious effort would be great. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very tempting! Why are all the tempting things such soul suckers?

      Delete
  5. This - "Another piece of advice I've picked up (and clung to, really) is that as writers, we should do at least one thing a day that makes us FEEL like writers" - is brilliant.

    I almost have a story going. This means I write a lot of stuff that never gets published or that doesn't take off/take shape the way I think it will, but it still makes me happy. I think it's valuable to write stuff like that if only to remind myself that I don't NEED the whole published book thing to satisfy my writer's soul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Precisely. Writing should be for US first.

      Delete
  6. I usually go through that refresh email scenerio way too many times:P So this post helped me:) Thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad, Emma. We've all been there.

      Delete
  7. I'm in that stage where you need to just push to the finish line so you can finish your first book--but I can relate nonetheless. Live! Maybe it shouldn't, but it kinda annoys me when people sit around doing nothing but hoping and waiting, when they could be writing potential best sellers. Like I said, never written a complete book, but the wait is tortuously familiar, waiting for the spark, the inspiration, the idea...and if you can't write one book, than write a different one, write a poem, or just write in your journal, just do yourself a favor and do *something*.

    Oops. Ranting. Again. Cool post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I originally had a typo there--instead of sit around and do nothing, I wrote wit around and do nothing. Actually, that might be interesting. Please, "wit" all you want. That's good. So much better than sitting, actually.

      Delete
    2. You crack me up, Jonathan! But I love your perspective and I love that you're not sitting around waiting for things to happen to you. Write on, friend.

      Delete
  8. This is very true; I think this applies to any writing where you want feedback. I do this when I send off CP work, when I want to know if anyone has commented on my blog posts, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And it doesn't work—It DOES work to woman up and just find something to do as a writer, and that's something I need to get in the habit of doing. :) Thanks for the ideas! I definitely need to start putting them to use.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so welcome! Woman up! I like that.

      Delete
  9. Oh, this post is so true. Writing involves so much waiting, and it can be really frustrating. I love occupying myself with either starting on my next writing project or reading to fill up that inspiration well again. That way, my mind isn't on the waiting and has other things to focus on. I also try to look back to those other times I've had to go through waits and realize that time always flies and the wait will come to an end before I know it, because it always does.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True! The wait will come to an end. Great reminder.

      Delete
  10. Saya dari indonesia.. salam kenal yah.. semoga sukses.:)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Love this advice! Also, yes, bingewatching Sherlock is not a terrible thing. ;)
    I always work on other stories while I'm waiting. I have a plethora of book ideas, so there's always something new to more-or-less keep my attention while I try not to fall into the wait-and-refresh cycle.


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbositybookreviews.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete

Home