Friday, July 22, 2011

How to Wait Like a Writer

Waiting for something doesn’t bother me – most of the time.

I don’t care about line-ups at the grocery store, post office or coffee shop – unless I am REALLY rushed (which is normal), and dying for my coffee (which is normal). However, I do get ‘restless’ when someone in the grocery check-out is complaining/whining/moaning about the lack of pureed, prickly pear, edible cactus.

Oh, for the love of God. Let’s just get ON WITH IT!

So I don’t mind line-ups. I can handle those, no problem.

But I hate waiting for news, good or bad. I hate waiting for mail - but love getting it. And it’s quite obvious that waiting for Santa, the Tooth Fairy, my birthday, and the Easter Bunny when I was a kid quite clearly, and still obviously, drove me out of my mind.

For a writer who is anxious to see their words in print, hoping to entertain, enlighten and inspire the world, waiting for any news from an agent, editor or publisher, positive or negative, can drive him or her (mostly me), off the cliff into a canyon of irrational behaviour – obsession.

Take, for instance, me. I am desperately waiting to hear about some upcoming writing news. I won’t share what it is yet because, given my near-psychotic superstitious nature, I’m afraid if I say anything now, I might jinx it.

So while I am waiting to hear, by email and mail from two different places, I obsess. I am practically catatonic and almost get nothing else done - no writing - as all my thoughts and energies are on one thing - waiting.

I scour the internet, searching for other writers who have posted their experiences with these publications on their blogs or websites. Information on response times, acceptances and rejections - I want to know it all. Time spent obsessing/stalking/surfing is time I should be writing. Yes, research and learning from others is part of the writing biz. But when I am not obsessing/stalking/surfing, I fight the urge to stare at the wall, frozen in anticipation, and inhale antacids.

Then there is the publisher who corresponds only by mail. Now for me, this is a good thing. The classic way of getting news via paper, envelope, and postage will never fail to thrill me. It makes me want to quit my day job and sit by the mailbox all day. But the Canadian Postal strike had me pacing the halls worrying about when it was going to be over. What if the publisher mailed me a contract and it’s sitting somewhere, waiting?

I contacted a fellow writer who knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone else at the publisher, and relayed my worries. I know it sounds all very egotistical, as if I was counting my chickens before they hatched, but remember that I had to be proactive and think ahead – like a professional. So through the chain of information relayed backwards, my worries were settled. If they want my story, they will find me - no matter what. Kinda like CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service). Cool.

My other writer friend (nameless at her request - for obvious reasons), became a sounding board for my psychotic concerns. She, too, revealed her…behaviour. In waiting for her own writing/publishing news, she gave up weeding her garden. While she watched the dandelions multiply, she directed her focus to the capabilities of her email. Did her email even work? Did she submit her work properly, as requested? Did she send it TO the right email address? Did she send them HER correct email?

She had her husband send her ‘test’ emails to make sure it worked. Um…while she was getting him to test her email, she was likely receiving mine.

So while I was obsessing, and not growing dandelions but grey hair, I was relaying all these ‘antics’ to a non-writing friend who is more supportive than any cross-your-heart-underwire-C-cup.

As I finished my tales of obsession, she looked at me stunned. As I worried she would call the men with straight-jackets for me and my writer friend, she said, “That’s like waiting for a guy to call!”

It’s true! I haven't been on the ‘market’ for a while, but memories of those bygone years still run deep; the waiting, worrying and obsessing. I need to stop waiting for him (or her) to call or write, and get writing.

Someone save me – from myself. And don’t make me wait.

And never put me on hold.


  1. Your friend nailed it on the head! All that obsessive waiting is just like the angsty teen waiting for a guy to call. Is it funny or just sad that some things never change?

  2. Yes, Ros, some things never change....sad, sad, sad. Thank you for reading! Lisa