Patience, Grasshopper

They say patience is a virtue, but in this business, it’s also a necessity. Becoming a professional author, transforming your creative calling into a viable career requires many things, including dedication, perseverance, hard work and sheer unmitigated guts. It also requires the patience of a saint…or of a writer. 

Patience will keep you from rushing a story before it’s ripe, from skipping the boring parts like research and endless hours of editing, from giving up when the going gets tough and the writing gets swampy. It will keep you from sending the finished book out into the greater world before it’s ready, whether to an eager e-book buying audience or to agents and editors. 

Speaking of those agents and editors? Go Veruca Salt if you like, but I want it now! will not win you any points because nobody likes a diva, and these folks have piles of manuscripts in their inbox. Yes, it’s fair to nudge an agent if they’ve been sitting on a requested submission for months, but for heaven’s sake, be polite about it. Likewise with editors at publishing houses, though at that point on the trail, it will usually be your agent doing the nudging. The general rule of thumb is they’ll get to it when they get to it and not one minute sooner, but that doesn’t mean you get to take your time when the ball is in your court. You need to get requested materials out and edits done and resubmitted in a timely way or risk losing the golden ticket – or at least your place in the queue. 

Hurry up and wait. 

Yes, it’s in your job description. Check the fine print. And when I said patience was a necessity, I understated. It’s a freaking life saver

Patience will keep you from behaving badly when an editor takes months to deliver your galleys but you only have three days to turn them back around. It will keep you sane as you wait for over a year for that book you sold to finally see print. It will keep you quiet when Joe Reader, whom you’ve never met, tears you to shreds in an Amazon review, and will keep you from blowing up bridges when one of your working relationships doesn’t quite work out the way you’d hoped and planned. 

Practice makes perfect, but patience makes you professional. 

Cultivating it isn’t easy, but it’s more than worth it. If you hit the wall, if your patience well runs dry, turn to another professional writer for help. They’ll understand, they’ll talk you down. They’ll keep you from pushing send or post or tweet and suggest you do something better with your time and your hands – like work on a new project, or have a glass of wine and a brownie while you watch a Buffy The Vampire Slayer marathon on TV.

Lisa

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13 responses to “Patience, Grasshopper

  1. raymondbolton

    Amen and hallelujah, Lisa! Right now I’m slogging my way through a swamp on my current work. I’m also waiting (two-plus months now) for an editor in a publishing house to get around to reading the Complete of my last one. He took six months with the previous one and would have published it (loves my writing) save for the fact his boss decided to move away from fantasy into thrillers where—coincidentally—I currently find myself. 😀

    As for my choice of drugs, I can do either the wine or the brownie, but not both. More power to ya’ on that count.

  2. Lisa, this is a great piece. I love your simplicity, truth, and humor! I shared it on my facebook page because, even though I’m self publishing, there’s still plenty of “hurry up and wait” involved. Thank you!

  3. Thanks, Kim. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, and sharing is always appreciated. 🙂

    Lisa

  4. Oh boy… patience… That is one virtue I’m STILL trying to cultivate.

  5. Ana, aren’t we all?? 🙂

    Lisa

  6. Patience is not my long suit. I am more like those two vultures in the tree in the desert. I’m the one that turns to his partner and says, “Patience my Ass! Let’s kill something.” But without patience, curtailing my need to know “now” I would probably be spending my time either in jail for assaulting my agent or the insane asylum! Great post. We all need reminders.

    Wally

  7. And Belva does and I do, it puts things into the proper perspective.

  8. “Practice makes perfect, but patience makes you professional.”

    Oh, Yes. This. I need to tattoo it backwards on my forehead so it’s the first thing I see in the mirror every day.

    Great post. And bonus points for the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory reference. LOL.

  9. I will continue to practice my patience since, after all, it is in my job description. I love this blog and am now following you guys. Keep up the excellent work and I’ll keep reading.
    Blessings,
    Kimmy
    http://www.withoutalabel.me

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