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15 September 2008 @ 03:22 pm
Patience  
VERY interesting post from Nathan Bransford today (I seem to be linking him a lot lately), on why impatience can be so harmful to writers. It's tough, this business. Sometimes I feel like that old cliche you hear people say about their childhood - "In MY day, you had to walk uphill in waist deep snow, both ways."

As if constant rejection weren't enough, now we have the devil of our impatience to fight! And that is so, so true. It's hard to be patient. For me, anyway. I am not a patient person. Okay, so I'm patient enough to take the time to make chainmaille jewelry, sew a corset, or write a book. I think a certain amount of patience is necessary for all of those things. Someone who lacked it completely wouldn't be able to stick to any of those things long enough to actually finish. But once something is out of my hands? Like waiting to hear back from a submission or query? Nail biting agony of impatience. Marking days off on a calendar impatience. And when an agent does offer representation, I've heard time and time again from pros in the field that you want to take your time deciding. That you want it to be a good fit, and you want to ask the agent questions instead of just screaming "YES!!" in their ear and accepting their proposal. Mr. Bransford's post is an excellent example of why this is so important.

Writing is hard. Pursuing it professionally is even harder.

mizkit, aka C. E. Murphy posted once about how she met Anne McCaffrey at a signing. I paid particular attention to this, because like mizkit, meeting Anne at a signing was one of the defining moments of my life as a hopeful young writer. Only I didn't have the courage to tell her I wanted to be a writer, too, the way mizkit did. For me, it was just the sheer awe and excitement of meeting the lady who created Pern and its dragons and firelizards - her worlds were why I wanted to be a writer. Her stories captured me to the point where I still re-read the core six Pern books every year. Well, I don't remember exactly how it goes, but apparently mizkit told Anne how much she wanted to be a writer, and Anne's response was something like Writing is a terrible job. If you don't HAVE to do it, don't. (I'm totally paraphrasing from memory, but that was the gist of it.)

I've thought about this often since reading about Kit's experience. I'm glad I didn't have the courage to tell Ms. McCaffrey my aspirations. I think I was a tender fourteen the time I met her, and it might very well have crushed me. But the more time passes, the more I continue down this writing path, the more sense that statement makes to me. We as writers have to deal with an awful lot of rejection and dashed hope. They say to develop a thick skin, but the truth is, you can only build up so many calluses. To write from a place where you can emotionally connect with your characters, you can't shut yourself off from that empathetic connection, which is what allows us to hurt so bad when we face rejection or negativity - well, I think so, anyway. Someone else's opinion may differ. The point is, I think Anne McCaffrey was trying to save mizkit the heartache that goes with being a writer. To pull from Ms. McCaffrey's own Crystal Singer books, she was warning her away because of the dangers that come hand in hand with the job. Because being a writer has great rewards...but those rewards come with a cost, and not everyone was cut out for this gig.

The truth is, I'm going to write books whether or not they ever get published. I hear about people who "quit" because they've tried X number of times with X number of novels and never landed an agent or publisher. And while part of me gets that, because how many times can you beat your head against a brick wall, the bigger part of me has no freaking clue what these people are talking about! What do you mean quit? Quit trying to get published? Mmm, okay, I guess. Quit writing?? What, are you serious? You can really do that? Like forever? Because these people in my head, they won't just go shut up and go away and leave me alone. That's not happening.

Besides, if it did, I think my circle of beta readers would form a lynching party.

So I learn patience. I stop looking at the calendar and work on the next book. I have a file, saved, with a list of questions I plan to ask an agent when I am someday offered representation. (Yes, when. If you beat against a brick wall long enough and hard enough, or just with right equipment, eventually it comes down.) I am not going to let impatience, or rejection, defeat me.

This post brought to you by Consort, because once again my writing brain is avoiding it. But now we're going back to tackle it some more. I've already wrestled victory out of a difficult paragraph, time to wrap up the chapter. Damn it.
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Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
 
 
 
"Connoisseurs of Difficulty"kistha on September 15th, 2008 10:59 pm (UTC)
I do, indeed, as they say, "have a rope."

:D
rhienellethrhienelleth on September 15th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
I would be nervous if I thought I'd ever seriously quit. But luckily, I don't. :-)
-: Cityscapepeartreealley on September 16th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
The truth is, I'm going to write books whether or not they ever get published. I hear about people who "quit" because they've tried X number of times with X number of novels and never landed an agent or publisher. And while part of me gets that, because how many times can you beat your head against a brick wall, the bigger part of me has no freaking clue what these people are talking about! What do you mean quit? Quit trying to get published? Mmm, okay, I guess. Quit writing?? What, are you serious? You can really do that? Like forever? Because these people in my head, they won't just go shut up and go away and leave me alone. That's not happening.

This is where I've been a lot lately. I decided that getting published is less important to me than it used to be. I'm not as interested in doggedly going over the writing full-time thing. I think of the burnout I've been struggling with the last couple of years, and I think "what if I HAD gotten published? The pressure would be worse, and I would be screwed."

That said, I have the people in my head who don't shut up, either. I have as long as I can remember. Right now, they're happy in the RPGs I'm doing and I'm happy with that, but eventually one will sneak out that doesn't fit into the current continuity that I'm playing in, want a novel, and get loud enough that I'll abandon everything else to write it. Because I have to.

And then, maybe I'll try to get it published, and while I do that, I'll work on the next story--whatever form it comes in.


(This post brought to you by "may not have had enough caffeine to be coherent yet.")