Saturday, February 05, 2011

The waiting (and waiting and waiting) game

How long will I have to wait? That is a question I ask often in my life.

How long will I have to wait for the test results?
How long will I have to wait for my teenager to get done with choir practice?
How long will I have to wait in line at the post office?

I don't mind waiting. As long as I know what I'm in for. Because then I can be prepared if the wait is going to be long. Bring a book or journal, run a few errands, or find some distractions to take my mind off what I'm waiting for.

It's the not knowing that can drive me crazy. Like a couple of weeks ago when I expected my daughter to be out by 4:00, or 4:15 at the latest. But when 4:20 came around and there was no sign of her, I started to get annoyed. A few more minutes passed. Snow was falling heavier and heavier and I still had to make it home to cook dinner and had no idea how long I was going to have to wait. By the time she made it to the car at around 4:35 I was ready to burst!

If I had known that choir practice would go that long, it would have been different. I would have been prepared. I would have endured the waiting by just "being chill" as we say in my family.

It's not much different in my writing/submitting life. I like to know how long of a wait to expect after sending something to an agent or publisher. And they try to be accommodating by putting in their guidelines something like: Expect a reply within 6 or 9 or 12 weeks/months.

No prob. I can wait six weeks. I can even wait 9 months (done that three times before in another area of my life). It's when one of them "only responds if interested" that it can be a little tricky. It seems simple enough. Wait until that 9 months passes and then put a little "rejected" into the response column in my submission tracker.

What about when the unexpected happens? One of those publishers that says "no SASE" and "responds within 9 months if interested" sent me a nice little rejection saying what they liked about my story (and why they chose to reject it) 10 months after I submitted it. A pleasant surprise. An encouraging surprise! Of course, I sent along another manuscript to the very editor that wrote the lovely note. But now have the rules of the waiting game changed? Do I let the nine months and then count it as rejected? Or do I wait a little longer, just in case?

The nine months have nearly passed. I've decided that I can't count on the unexpected. But I'm not going to discount it either. Who knows? There may be another, better surprise just around the corner!

I'll try to sit back and "be chill" in the meantime.


  1. 'Be chill' is great advice. Waiting is really hard - and we have to do this often if we want to be authors!

  2. Yeah, those "only responds if interested' policies are killers!

  3. I love hearing about your journey, Becky.


I would love to hear from you!