Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The fine art of Hurrying up and then waiting around

There’s a lot nobody tells you about being a published writer. Hell, there are great gaps in the available information about how to get published at all. But the one thing I never realized was how much time is spent just waiting.

Writing itself is a lengthy, involved process that draws me in and tends to take over. I hear my characters even when I’m not actually writing, I test ideas and plots in the back of my head while driving and compose back stories for the characters while doing the dishes.  Even when the writing is done, there are the invariable rounds of polishing, editing, proof reading and finally the writing of a synopsis or two. Creation is a busy, busy process.

The next step in the process is remarkably different. Having poured your blood, sweat and tears into creating your manuscript, you submit it to the publishing gods and …nothing happens.  Well, that’s not entirely true, a great many things will happen, but you aren’t going to be aware of any of it. I’ve now done submissions to several different publishers, and response times vary from four weeks to four to six months. My current submission will be another 2-3 weeks before I hear, and I’m finding myself in a holding pattern. What I write next will depend on whether this novel is accepted or rejected, and I am reluctant to commit to a project until I know for sure where I should be focusing my efforts. It also pays to wait even if the news is bad, since every rejection letter I’ve received has contains pearls of wisdom, helping me hone my skills and become a better writer.

In the meantime, my second book’s proof is overdue arriving from the publishing house. When it gets here I will need to go over it with a fine toothed comb, give a copy to some trusted people to copy edit, and generally make sure it is ready for public consumption. But for now, I am completely and utterly “between projects,” and it’s a damned strange feeling. After months of writing, re-writing, polishing, formatting and all the work that goes into self publishing, I have nothing to do.

I have no doubt that in a few days I will think back longingly to these moments when I didn’t need to do anything more than putter about, but for now things are oddly calm, and it’s not a feeling I’m comfortable with anymore. I think that’s another sign I’ve become a true writer. If I’m not doing it, my world doesn’t feel right.