Saturday, April 23, 2011

Patience is a Virtue!

My mom used to tell me that patience is a virtue. That means I’m mind-bogglingly virtuous, when it comes to writing that is! Though I think I’m a very patient person anyway, choosing to pursue writing as a career has certainly reinforced that particular trait.

It takes patience to write a book. One-word-at-a-time patience. Not everyone can crank out a novel in three months, certainly not without a team such as James Patterson employs. Okay, so I do have a team of three – me, myself, and I – and none of us are particularly speedy. For a new book I’d say think more along the lines of eighteen months, minimum. I haven’t truly tested that theory though, as I haven’t written a “new” book with a contract deadline hanging, sharp and sword-like, above my head, so I think two years is probably more accurate.

Ah yes, mustn't forget the requisite patience needed to research agents and publishers to make certain they’re appropriate for your book, to track every query, dates sent, and the response or lack of same, since so many agents and editors are now letting a non-response speak for them. Hurry up and wait.

Finally though, success! An offer’s been made! But patience is needed yet again. Actually, patience multiplied times six months, waiting for the actual contract to arrive. Are we there yet?

Didn’t think I’d need an extraordinary amount of patience during the editing process. Wrong! Near the end, suddenly the editor wanted eight more pages, or to delete twelve. Our choice. Sigh. Can you be patient and hyperventilate at the same time? Let me assure you, you can. Scrambling for eight more pages of material while remaining patient made for an exhausting week.

Edits are done, galley proof complete. Yay! But wait, there’s more. Now you need even more patience! You’re tapping your toe in anticipation of the happy event, of the day a heavy box arrives in a nice little brown truck. You’re watching the clock, waiting for the minute when you’ll tear apart strapping tape and cardboard to reveal hidden treasure. But guess what? Until that moment you need to find the patience (and discipline) to keep working! It’s time to blog, to read and research, to update marketing materials and paint your house, to set up signings and speaking engagements, and most importantly, to write, write, write, while you wait, wait, wait for months, and weeks, and days…

Are you mind-bogglingly virtuous, too? -- Folio


  1. I'm pretty sure I'm the poster child for patience. Not that it's easy, but it helps having friends along the way to commiserate during the long delays.

  2. Yes...patient. Virtuous in that way. Big time. And sometimes that seems crazy. This is not a career for whimps. Inkpot

  3. Patience is not always a virtue. Remember CJ Box's story about being patient and not bugging his agent, only to find out much later (was it a year?) that his agent had passed away some time before. Still, I wish I had it in greater supply!

  4. This morning I had another thought. (Doesn't happen with regularity) Patience is a virtue as long as patience doesn't equal passive.

  5. Absolutely brilliant, Shannon! Patience doesn't equal passive...

    Laura, you are patient indeed. Karen, you too. We all are!