Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not Being in a Rush

This week marks my one-year anniversary of being agented.

And before you cue the congratulations, let me say that if I had known then that I would celebrate this day as an unpublished writer, I would have cried.

And not happy tears either.

I spent five of the last months in revisions. Four of them on sub. Two of them licking my wounds when the sub failed. And three of them writing. (No, it doesn’t add up. But I can do two things at once, you know.) The bottle of champagne I bought when I first went on submission stays in the fridge, chilled into perpetuity like Walt Disney’s brain.

But now I am no longer in a hurry.

We all know publishing is a hurry-up-and-wait business. You don’t need patience to handle the waits (because you will be waiting anyway, even if you’re chewing wallpaper while you do it), but it helps.

And sometimes I am patient. I spent 2 ½ years writing and revising my first book.

But once I had an agent, I was in a hurry. My dreams were so close to coming true. So couldn’t I have my deal NOW?

Then I had my answer: No.

So now I’m working on my next book. It won’t take me 2 ½ years, but I’m not setting any land speed records. Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with me. I know some writers who turn out beautiful, compelling manuscripts in weeks, not years.

So I was heartened to read a recent feature on Huffington Post:

41 Over 40: Novelists Debuting Over 40

(HT Lisa Brackmann, author of the brilliant 2010 debut Rock Paper Tiger)

Now this is a list inspires me. If Laura Ingalls Wilder and George Eliot belong to that club, I want to join too.

So even if I’m age-eligible now, I still have time left to take care of the other minor criterion: getting a debut published. I have time to learn my craft. Time to write, revise, and wait until I'm ready.

Even if I have to freeze my head, Disney style, and dictate the thing centuries from now, using my thawed-out brain waves to beam the book directly into the cranial feeds of my yet-to-be-born readership (and if Uncle Walt wants the film rights, so much the better.)

See, I’m willing to pay my dues.

7 comments:

  1. I was inspired by Lindsay (and Disney) in this point. Heehee!

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  2. Hee hee, Kelly. My favorite part: "See, I'm willing to pay my dues."

    Here is the thought that comforts me sometimes when I've gotten too many rejections for one week: Well, I can still get published when I'm 77. It happens. Knowing that I have as much time to get published as I have years on this earth is kind of liberating. Authors, unlike actors, don't have to be spring chickens. ;-) Thank goodness.

    Great post, Kelly!!!

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  3. Hurry up and wait. That is an apt description of the writing/publishing process. I'm off to check out the "41 over 40 link" now. Thanks!

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  4. I agree with Alex--it will totally happen, Kelly. I wouldn't say that for free if I didn't believe in you :)

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  5. I've had two agents in three years and no sale yet. It isn't about the how fast you get there, it's about not giving up.

    It'll happen. And that champagne will taste all the sweeter for it. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  6. And speaking of not being in a rush...

    Signed with agent. 7 months revising. A YEAR on sub. Really!

    I'm not a patient person, but there really isn't much choice with this process. You're totally wise to adopt this attitude -- it's way better than fighting with reality (I found out that yeah, reality generally wins).

    The main thing that stops some of us from taking that next step is that we just stop.

    You'll get there.

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