The Long Wait
Posted on January 30, 2011
It’s been a while, people, I know. It was hard work, finishing the Dark Fiber revision and it didn’t leave much room for anything else, but last Monday I hit those six keys I’m so fond of, the ones that give me that TGIF feeling: THE END. Dark Fiber is done and I’m very happy with the result. Now starts the long wait until my agent has read the new version and comes with his verdict.
Waiting is a constant in the life of a writer. We wait a good deal of our time and most of us have learned to live with it. Some waiting bouts are worse than others, though. The most agonizing one is when you wait for a positive reply to a query. I mean, J.K. Rowling had to digest quite some “no’s” before she finally hit a “yes”. I am quite lucky as it is, having agents for both my adult and my children’s books, here in the Netherlands and abroad. But there are more waits, like the one for your agent to come with a verdict. Is the manuscript solid? Well written? And most of all, is it salable? Again, an agonizing wait.
There are a couple of ways to deal with those long waits. You can either sit back and relax, you can stress out and bite your nails, or you can move on. I’m not good at sitting back or at relaxing. Too much energy flowing through my body. Stressing out and biting my nails, on the other hand, is something that –at least for a while– seemed to come natural to me, until I decided that it was so counterproductive, that I had to do something to get rid of it (or was it my husband who said those wise words?). Anyway, if sitting back and relaxing is not in your DNA, you’ll have to find other ways. For me it’s moving on.
So I left the manuscript in the capable hands of my agent and moved on to the next projects: rewriting the sample translation for The Sun Spirit for my other agent and writing my YA thriller The Weed Man.
Oh, and in between, just to get my brain back in gear, I solved the 36 cube!
What’s your way to deal with waiting?
Tagged: 36 cube, Dark Fiber, Mina Witteman, The Sun Spirit, The Weed Man, thriller
My way of waiting is keeping my brain busy. How do I do that? Gym/Running and meditation. Try that.. It does helps you take your mind off of the stressful waiting…..
Ohh BTW, Congratulations on reaching “THE END”. I cant wait to read the English version of the Dark Fiber.
Yes, running is part of my ‘moving on’, too! It clears my mind, like those puzzles do, and wakes up the inspiration molecules.
Congratulations on your Dark Fiber revision! I know a lot about waiting, too. While I have completed and revised my novel over a year ago, I still need to find a literary agent. Hopefully, I’ll have some luck at the SF Writers Conference! As for keeping busy during the wait, I’ll enjoy my 3-mile power walk on a lovely afternoon or I’ll work on my next blog entry (in addition to market research work!). As you love to travel, during a harsh winter, you could always plan your next trip!
On another note: I was wondering when you do your own translations, how do you deal with the temptation of rewriting a bit here and there as you translate? As the author, can you indulge that temptation, or do your various agents make you stick to the original version?
Yes, you too know about waiting. 🙂 Never despair. One day you’ll hit the big ‘yes’.
About the translations: I do get tempted to change while translating, but I’m very okay with that. My book was written for a Dutch audience and that isn’t necessarily an American or French audience. Every country has its own mores when it comes to children’s books. As long as the soul of the translation doesn’t stray from the heart of the original, I’d say. In this case my agent asked me to rewrite while translating (and she provided a great crit report!).
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.
Great post, Mina,
And I hope you have a positive outcome for your waiting. I could really relate to what you were saying and I must admit that I’m like you. (Although I’m not very good at solving puzzles:) I tend to move onto my next project and immerse myself in that and try to forget about the manuscript ‘on submission’.
I’m also writing a YA thriller and your manuscript The Weed Man has me intrigued. Hope it’s available soon for me to buy at the bookshop:)
Good luck with all your projects.
I think it’s the only logic solution to forget about the subbed ms as it’s out of your hands anyway. Fretting over it would only aggravate the wait. Besides, it’s so much fun writing YA thrillers, isn’t it?
Great post Mina! Yes writing is a waiting game….The way I try and deal with it is to always get stuck into the meat of another project. Good Luck on your latest WIP!
Thanks Kim! What a luck that we have so many stories still to be written to keep our minds off of the darker sides of our profession, eh?
I move on, relax, focus on other things and completely ignore it till I get my rejection slip. Then I pat myself on the back and if my life hasn’t been completely disrupted, send it out again. Most often that came in the middle of a move or a health crisis, my life was pretty unstable the last time I was doing regular submissions. So I’d halt for some years sometimes, distracted by survival concerns and sickness.
Now that I’m back on the horse again, I found the wait amazingly easy. I just chalked up “Sent it out” as that day’s cool little achievement to make myself feel good and the next day did a pastel painting, edited some pages on my novel in progress, kept going.
I have fibromyalgia. I had to learn to reduce stress in my life once I had a diagnosis for it. Stress will render me incapable of doing anything, I get sick fast and wind up in physical pain. One thing that does is provide immediate physical feedback that Worrying is a Very Bad Idea.
I wound up internalizing the feeling that once I sent it off, it was Done. Out of my hands. The one in hand is still mine. The new novel is sexier and more fun and more engaging. It doesn’t have The End on it yet, I can change who the main character is or put in another bison hunt or change anything I want to.
If all this sounds oh so sane and wise, I have one more thing to admit. I used to be the world’s biggest chicken on submissions. I had every bad attitude in the book and then some, many of which got pounded into me at school. Others came from family who did not want me to become a writer – each family member had his or her own reason for that and many were well intentioned within their own point of view.
I tried out the “stubborn and patient” route with short stories right before the big health crisis and fibromyalgia diagnosis. I dealt with it then by sending out batch submissions so I wouldn’t be all anxious about just one. I sent six or seven stories at a time, which got them off my back and got me to doing more stories.
I also always sent some of them to soft markets so that within the batch of rejections I got a no-pay or low-pay acceptance. I did that purely for morale and it worked. I got two pro paid acceptances doing that.
They put a stake in the heart of “You’re not good enough.” I know my novels are better than my short stories by every external criterion and friends’ critique. Therefore, it’s inevitable one of my novels will sell. Like my batch submission stories, I do not care which one. Editing them is slower than for stories so I don’t have as many going around the block at a time, but it doesn’t matter. The first one that does sell will help kick open doors for the others and the better I get at editing, the better the quality on all of them.
Those two story acceptances taught me something else vital. The best writing teachers out there are professional editors who don’t cost you anything but postage or time spent sending an email submission. They actually want to give me money. They would rather I learned fast and did it their way and got it in on time. Beats paying tuition!
So glad to hear that you beat your submission fear, Robert! It is the scariest part of our profession, the coming out, waiting for that final verdict on whether we’re good enough or not.
I’m with you all the way when you say it’s inevitable that one of your novels will sell. I would even add: several of your novels! It’s the spirit that keeps us going, both on the writing and on the health part. Doesn’t it make us the true warriors? 🙂
Congratulations Mina, I know it was a tough job, but you had to do it!
Thanks, Babs! And thanks for the delicious soup!
As your husband it is my duty to be wise.
By recognising that (and by solving the horribly difficult puzzle) you just proved again to be a true genious 🙂