Sunday, November 24, 2013
Patience is a virtue? Usually, almost always...
I saw a tweet somewhere this week where an author was contemplating the need for a beta crit (basically another set of eyes on a manuscript) or pushing through to publication without. It got me thinking about the role of patience in this crazy publishing way of life.
Before I got into seriously pursuing publication I don't think I would describe myself as a very patient person. I was more about instant gratification. If I wanted it I got it, did it, whatever.
Publishing demands a slower approach. It demands that you take the time to write a good book, that you work through plot snags, that you develop your characters and that you edit carefully, multiple times. I was very lucky to be included early on in a writing group with folks who already understood the value of honest critiques and another set of eyes on your work. That didn't stop me from rushing through things at the beginning, from posting work that wasn't in any way ready for another person to see (even for editing) and worse, I sent out work that I felt was "done" to perfection without having taken the time to properly edit and revise with a crit from an UNBIASED reader. (I stress unbiased here because I really don't count mom, dad, cousin, husband, bff or anyone close to me as an unbiased reader.)
I learned through rejection that waiting is vital. Patience really does allow for your best work to be polished and presented. I've been down a long road that beat patience into me in other ways too. It took me a full year of querying to get my first agent. Three years with my second agent to get a ms revised. I've been through a roller coaster of waiting for editors to make decisions, waiting for queries to get read, waiting, waiting, and waiting some more. Some might say that it was time wasted, and depending on the day I might agree with them. Not today though. Today I'm thinking that during all that time waiting, when it felt like I was treading water, I was working on my craft, and I was actually moving forward. I was developing my skill, my VOICE, and my ideas.
Now, there are times when patience is actually an excuse for avoiding the hard decisions. When you give it one more day or one more month because you don't want to send that email or make that call or publish that story. I've been there too...those close to me know what I'm talking about. That's patience motivated by fear. And although I think being humble and understanding your areas of need is vitally important as an author, being scared is very damaging and shouldn't be an excuse for delaying decisions. That's where your gut comes in. Where you need to listen to your gut feeling and do what needs to get done, otherwise you are wasting time.
Patience is a virtue usually, and I've learned that no matter how excited I am to get my work out there, to let everyone see what I've done, it's almost always better to take a step back, breathe deeply and let the steps unfold as they should.