Wait For It

If you know me personally, you could very easily report that I am not a patient person. I like to do things at full-speed and I absolutely stink at waiting. Waiting is the worst. In fact,  I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and I have two books packed in my bag already just to override the fear of sitting there for half an hour (or more) in the waiting room with *gasp* nothing to do.

Because my brain is just wired to go, go, go all the time. If there’s a free moment in the middle of the day, you can bet that I’m thinking “What is it that I need to do that I haven’t done yet?” If I had a nickel for every time my husband has looked lovingly at me and said, “Just relax a second,” then…I’d have a lot of nickels.

And the thing is, I’m not an un-relaxed person. I’m quite happy and feel “calm” most of the time. Maybe that’s because my “calm” is a bit more chaotic than others. Because there’s nothing worse to me than sitting and doing nothing. I’m not the kind of person that can sit in a lawn chair and watch the flora and fauna for hours. I appreciate those things and enjoy looking at those things, but after about a minute, I’ve seen what I need to see and I want to move on to something else.

(You’d think I’d be skinny and my house would be immaculate, but neither of those things is true.)

While I usually do a good job of filling the hours in my day, I’ve come to a point in my writing career where I am waiting. And I can’t do a dang thing about it.

I’m not naive, I know that the publishing industry is slow and there is a lot of waiting to be done. I went into this endeavor eyes wide open. I understand that each part of the process is lengthy, from the writing stage to the revision to the seeking and procuring an agent, the editing, the submission to publishing houses, the editing again, and the length of time it takes to get a book designed, printed and published. All of those require…waiting.

I’m only on stage three of the process. I’ve queried agents (through various sources: conference, contest, and cold querying) and now I have manuscripts out in the world for review. So I wait.

I’m willing to do that because I understand that there are so many hours in the day and most agents have active clients they’re working for. They’re making deals, giving advice, submitting manuscripts, on top of numerous other things for their existing clients. Plus, it just takes a while to read queries and pages from requested materials. So, I’m exercising my patience.

Some days, I’d rather be exercising my body, to be quite honest. And that hardly ever happens either.

Since I’m not that good at waiting, I’ve started actively finding things to fill my time while I wait. We’re moving soon, so I’m organizing and packing and reorganizing and clearing out junk. Clearing out junk is totally healthy for your soul. I recommend it immensely.

What else am I doing? Since my last set of queries/requests went out, I’ve read 9 books. I’ve never really counted the number of books I’ve read. With no concrete idea of how many I normally read, I made a goal to read 52 this year. I’m already at 42 at half the year. (Learned something about goal setting with this, btw..)

And the good thing about all the reading is that it’s helping improve my writing and career. Every book I read gives me lessons on craft (be them good or bad). Every author I research on the internet or book pic I post on InstaGram gives me insight into the business and forges connections with the writing/reading community.

Another important thing I’m doing now is writing. I know that sounds weird for me to say. Hey look, the writer is WRITING. Big deal.  But it is a big deal. Once I had a final draft of my manuscript ready for querying, I put it away, because tinkering with it while agents are reading may cause problems. What if they like it the way it is? Or have other possible changes in mind after they read? If I mess with it now, I may give myself some big headaches in the future once I find the right agent for my work. So I leave it alone until I hear back.

So then what?

What is a writer to do? A writer writes. I started another project. Or rather, continued a half-started project. And I have to tell you, the fact that I’m laying down words on something, anything, is making me a hundred times more calm. It doesn’t feel like waiting when I’m producing something. There was about a month period in which I wrote zero words and it was terrible and I was miserable. Just diving back into the creative process has made all the difference. It doesn’t matter if this project will ever be seen by anyone else. It just matters that I’m creating.

Do I still obsessively check my emails, hoping for an agent response, even though I know it’s too early for a reply? Yes. When I’m driving or in the shower, does my mind still wander into possible scene changes, marketing ideas, lists of ideal potential publishers? Yes. Do I waffle back and forth from thinking my manuscript is the BEST THING EVERRR to thinking it’s total rubbish and nobody will want to read it? Yeah, that too. (Don’t think that will ever go away.) But, I’m managing the waiting parts and maintaining my sanity and I feel pretty good about that.

Until the next Tuesday blog..I’ll be here waiting…like Timbaland waiting to reveal the next boy eliminated on Boy Band. Seriously, this guy takes the reality show dramatic pause to a whole new level.

timbaland

 

 

Looking Back and Looking Forward

My surgery-induced work vacation ends on 1/5/15. It feels a little bit like the end of an era. I look forward to getting back into the day job, but a little part of my writer heart is going to weep that day when it begins to miss sitting down to write whenever it wants.

I don’t typically make New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps like things unresolved. But since it’s that time o’ year, I’ll do another obligatory New Year’s tradition: the wrap up.

My surgery was October 2. Since that day I’ve accomplished the following things:

  • Written roughly 60,000 words for 2 different manuscripts.
  • Read 12 books.
  • Binge-watched three tv shows on Netflix. One of which landed high on my list of all-time faves.*
  • Completely freaked out on my Crit Partner about my WIP and doubted that I could actually write a book.
  • Finished current seasons of five shows I’d DVR’d.
  • Organized my cabinets and pantry.
  • Visited the physical therapist around twenty times.
  • Went back to my WIP and decided maybe I can make a go of this.
  • Watched two movies in the theatre. Loved them both.
  • Got really good at driving the motorized carts at the grocery store.
  • Graduated one kid from college. (Okay, she did that herself, but I helped!)
  • Fell “fictional head-over-heels” for a hot alien.**

Not bad considering a lot of that was done while I was flat on my back. (Or rather slanted at the physican-approved 30 degree angle.)

In preparation for my return to work, I’m heading into the writing cave today. I plan to double the word count in my WIP by the time I go back, so it’s head down, fingers flying, don’t look up until I get there. I will not be deterred. You can tempt me with Walking Dead marathons, Twinkies or hot aliens**, I’m not stopping until I hit my goal.

My best wishes for a safe and happy 2015! See you on the flip side.

*The 100 is the best show you’re not watching. Seriously, it’s ground-breaking, daring, and emotional. I can’t recommend it enough. The writing is great, the actors are perfectly-cast and talented. And whatever you think’s going to happen…yeah, you’re wrong. So many, “Did not see that comings,” I can’t count them.

** My friend and aforementioned crit partner Mandy recommended that I finally make a point to read Jennifer Armentrout’s Lux series. She knows me so well.  I’ve devoured 2 ½ books in less than a week. (And that’s reading only at night after hubs goes to sleep.) I absolutely love it. The MC is great. The love interest is smokin’. It’s got everything I want in a story—emotional romance, gripping drama, plot twists, action, did I mention the romance? If you like those things, get on it.

Snow Miser

They say “if you don’t like the weather in Arkansas, wait for tomorrow.”  It’s true. Our weather is pretty much all over the place.  It’s not uncommon for us to sport shorts and flip-flops one day, then pull the hoodies over our heads the next. Right now it is 21 degrees. Next Monday, they’re predicting 69 degrees.  It’s kind of exciting when you think about it –  not knowing what to expect when you wake up each day.

I am not a summer person. I hate the sweltering heat that leaves your steering wheel too hot to grip and forces you inside just so you can breathe.  Seriously, when you can see the heat, it’s too hot.  I have friends who love the sun and would literally live on the beach. Forget having a roof over their heads, a beach umbrella would do.  Sometimes I envy their ability to soak up massive amounts of Vitamin D and look radiant and sun-kissed.  Most of the time though, I think they’re crazy.

Me? Give me mounds of snow to crunch in and pure, crisp air to breathe. The more layers I have to add, the better.  Cold air makes me feel alive and refreshed. To me, Icicles are prettier than sweat-ringed arm pits.  Snow trumps sand.

Right now, I’m in my element.  It’s cold.  Just a few days ago I was frolicking in the snow with my snappy winter fedora. (Yes, I frolic.) My friends are speaking to me through chattering teeth and bringing Snuggies to work.  But before too long I’ll be cranking up the AC and fanning myself like a poor Southern Belle overcome with the consumption; while my friends will be happy to sport glorious tans and designer sandals.

Isn’t it great that we both get our way at least some of the time?

I’ve been thinking about polarizing things lately. I read a book last weekend. (This book will remain nameless. This is a spoiler-free zone!) This was the last book in a particular series. And I have to say, it didn’t end in the way I predicted.  Credit to the author because that is actually a good thing.  If your readers can predict what will happen, why would they read the book?

While I felt like the writing was awesome, the story well-concluded, the protagonist triumphant, I was still left with an unsatisfied feeling.  Why?

Because heroine didn’t pick the right guy!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. It’s not all about the dude.  I get that.  But a major portion of the book was about the emotional/romantic journey the protagonist was taking.  And try as I may, I just can’t remain neutral in a triangle situation.  

I went to the internet to see if other readers had the same reaction to the conclusion of this series as I did.   What I found was very interesting.  The reviews on Good Reads and Amazon were about as polarizing as Heat Miser and Snow Miser.  I saw a lot of 5*, but there were 1* and 2* reviews as well.  The comments showed why –  the readers were squarely on Team A or Team B.  They either loved who she ended up with or, like me, they wanted her to choose the other guy. 

As a writer, this is something to consider. She successfully created two characters who were polar opposites, but who each garnered emotional connections to readers.  Each of these guys had attractive qualities, but they were both deeply flawed as well.  There was growth and change in both of them. As a result, readers actually cared who the protag picked.

I suspect this author knew this was going to happen and she ended the story in the way she wanted.  I admire her for that.  I can’t wait to read what she writes next. 

Until then, I’ll be sitting huddled here with the rest of Team A, wrapped in my wool scarf and waiting for the next snowfall.