Waiting (A Meditation for Authors)

Query letters are out. Or your book is on submission. Or your editor is sitting on option. Something MIGHT happen, so you stop doing and start waiting. You burn up your creativity with scenarios. They’re reading it right now. They hate it right now. They’re going to make an offer. They’re spilling coffee on the pages. It’s going to sell! It’s never going to sell; your career is over, never going to start, and this is worth a million dollars and will be a bestseller.

You waste time online, you waste time offline. You master Angry Birds because there’s no point in working on anything new while you’re WAITING. You master Bejeweled. Luxor. Farmville. You’d start playing World of Warcraft, but you don’t want to get all involved in something while you’re waiting– when something finally happens, you’ll have to abandon it. Likewise, no point in writing, no point in– hey, let’s stalk editors on Twitter.

Let’s google. Let’s read conference notes and interviews and SCBWI profiles. She would LOVE this book; nope, he’s going to hate it. What are they saying on Twitter right now? They’re reading a manuscript, is it YOURS? It could be yours. Let’s read between the lines, now they’re talking about Starbucks, BEA, American Idol, that new book you have but you haven’t read…

It’s been a while. You should probably do something. Research, critiques, Angry Birds, read the trades, read the trends, get in an argument about self publishing. Get in an argument about self publishing with JA Konrath, because come on, if you’re going to go, go big. Tweet @neilhimself to see if he’ll respond. If @msleamichele will respond. What about @aplusk? Come ON, Ashton Kutcher replies to EVERYBODY.

Somebody will respond. You will read 5 reviews, 15 books, 32 blog posts about query letter rules, 157 tweets about trends and the back of the toothpaste tube approximately 300 times. And eventually you’ll admit you’re not doing, you’re waiting. And waiting is not an active verb. You’ll feel sheepish, and itchy, and come to a realization.

It’s time to get back to doing. Whatever happens will happen; it will happen if you’re building houses of cards, or writing your next book. Nothing you do in the meantime changes what happens to that submission, so it’s probably time to start working on the next submission. Because once you have an answer, yes, no, you will have to start all over again.

May as well get a jump on the next waiting now.