This month’s card from the Healing Fairy Alphabet:
C is for Cocoon.
This the card of waiting, rest, planning ahead, dreaming. It might look like there is nothing happening on the surface, but much is unfolding.
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This month’s card from the Healing Fairy Alphabet:
C is for Cocoon.
This the card of waiting, rest, planning ahead, dreaming. It might look like there is nothing happening on the surface, but much is unfolding.
"The difference between a published author and an unpublished one is one day. It only takes one day, one moment, for your whole world to shift. I firmly believe that if you work hard at improving your craft and you simply do not give up, your day will come." - Mandy HubbardAdd a Comment
Liminality, as I understand it, is that betwixty/betweenish space in life. A waiting room. Life’s belly button. An incubator. But it’s more than that. I see liminality as a place of active, intent anticipation intended to transform and prepare us for what’s to come. Wow. Pretty deep, huh?
Soon I will be leaving my preparing place to bounce into a new phase in my publishing pursuits– querying agents and editors. Up to this point, I’ve been writing/revising/researching/daydreaming in a liminal space that exists between the time I decided to become serious about writing and the stage to come when others will see my work and choose to love it or leave it. This long season of liminality has been challenging (to put it politely), but I believe say I am a better person for it (and sheesh, let’s hope a better writer!)
Thanks to my stint in the Land of Liminality, these words mean much more than mere words to me:
Oh, sure. I know the minute I hit “send” on the first query I submit, I will slip into a new level of liminality, but now I feel more prepared for the transition. And between you and me, I believe the outcome will be worth the wait.
The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms. ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh
Today’s 5 words are about rest.
1. Couch-Nap – I like a good couch-nap. When Mom leaves me alone, the couch is my napping area of choice. Also the floor, my bed, the rocking chair,
and the butterfly rug in the bathroom.
2. Street-Nap – In the summer the asphalt in my neighborhood gets blazing hot. Those are the perfect days for a street-nap. I lie on my belly and my side and sometimes I flip over and squiggle around like a wiggly worm.
3. Laziness – Mom has been kind of lazy lately. She hasn’t been sitting at her computer and talking to herself! That means no writing in a few days. I thought she was a “full-time” writer. This week, she’s been a writer at rest.
4. Excuses – She makes excuses like, “I have an appointment.” and “I’m swamped. It’s a super-busy day.” and “How can I write if you drink all my coffee?” I can make excuses, too. “You left your cup right where I can reach it.”
and “I couldn’t decide which toy to play with.”
and “I was lonely eating in the kitchen by myself.”
5. Back-on-the-horse – Yesterday, Mom sat at her computer and said she was getting back on the horse. I have never seen a horse. Mom saw one in Manhattan and showed me the picture. It looked like a big dog. A really, really, REALLY big dog. I hope she doesn’t love that big guy more than she loves me.
Spring is almost here. I mean it’s here on the calendar, but in real life, not so much. Mom and I look for flowers outside, but we’re not seeing a whole lot.
The grass is still kind of brownish and slime-ish in spots. And the wind still turns my ears upside down.
Also, the rain has Mom bringing out my raincoat every couple of days. April showers and all that….
Real, actual spring – street nap spring – takes longer to happen, I guess.
Stories take longer than expected sometimes, too. The calendar says we’re 10 days into the month, but we’re not seeing much of Mom’s April manuscript. The idea is still brownish and slime-ish, and wind and rain in Mom’s head are slowing down the progress. Her ears aren’t upside down or anything, but I’m hearing an awful lot of “Here we go.” and not an awful lot of, “Yay. I’m finished.”
I think the rain wetting the soil and the wind flying the seeds all around are putting down the groundwork for the real season.
Like the rain and the wind, mind-writing and planning are putting down the groundwork for Mom’s story. The daffodils are starting to pop. I hope Mom’s story will pop soon, too.
Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.
Moments matter – Every single one of them. I try to use each one wisely.
This past weekend we lost 60 moments of sleep for daylight savings. Well, the humans did. I got those moments back in spades 60 times over.
Mom uses one hour of moments each day for work. And by work I mean she sits there and types on the computer and talks out loud to herself. Sometimes the Creativity visits her during that hour. I love visitors. I’m not sure I’ve ever met the Creativity Visitor, though. Maybe tomorrow…..
If the Creativity doesn’t visit at that exact work time, Mom still works. Each month, she makes a new story and fixes up an old story (or two or three) for her 12×12 Challenge. She also reads books about writing books, and reads books like the books she writes. Wait. What?
Writing time is not for blogs, not for Facebook, not for email, not for Words With Friends, and not even for TV.
It’s just working on stories in one way or another – writing them, reading them, fixing them, thinking about them, submitting them to agents and publishers, and giving me cuddles and treats…. (See what I did there?) If the Creativity doesn’t come – Oh well. Maybe tomorrow…..
We’ll be ready.
Sometimes stories get stuck. Mom likes the rule of three, so if there are only two good obstacles in her story, she can be Stuck-and-Waiting for one more good idea. Her other choice is to use an obstacle that isn’t her favorite and worry about it later. Then she is Stuck-but-Moving.
If a character turns boring halfway through the story, Mom can be Stuck-and-Waiting. A story that is Stuck-and-Waiting can die a miserable death. Her other choice is to go back to her character sketch and add some flaws, quirks, oddities, and traits to bump that character up. Even if he or she isn’t perfect, Mom can go back to work and worry about it later. Then she is Stuck-but-Moving.
When I come inside, I need to get the rock salt (and snow and mud) cleaned off my feet with a baby wipe. Sometimes, I am Stuck-and-Waiting.
When the snow is really deep (and touching my belly *shiver*) my legs can’t reach solid ground. Mom says, “I am not carrying you anymore.” So I get busy – Stuck-but-Moving.
Inside a snow bank, there could be something fun like a ball or something yummy like a piece of bread that the birds dropped. There’s one way to find out - drill my nose in as far as I can. Then I am Stuck-and-Searching. That’s my favorite way to be!
Today, Mom and I are counting down about rest.
What I Know About Rest
3. I nap in my bed.
2. I nap on the couch.
16. I nap in the street. (But only in the summer.)
1. I nap on Mom’s bed. I am allowed on her bed when she says the word, “OK” and then we sleep there all night long.
I am not allowed on there when she makes the bed, or when she is sorting out her folders and paperwork for her college job.
What Mom Knows About Rest
3. Waking up super-early in the morning, lazing in bed, drinking tea is a perfect, restful start to the day.
2. After a story is finished it needs to rest. No working on it, no looking at it, no THINKING about it.
Sometimes, a story needs to rest for a week. Sometimes longer.
1. While a story is asleep, it’s difficult to wait for it to finish resting. It’s good to start mind-writing a new story right away. (And all new stories should be about me!)
26. When stories wake up from resting, they sometimes stink.
Every once in a while, I get to thinking about our blog's name, "The Paper Wait" and how very appropriate it is in this business we're in.
As a writer, it feels like I'm always waiting...
waiting to hear about the latest submissions my agent sent out, waiting to get the contract or the revised contract that will be on its way soon, waiting to hear my editor's feedback on my latest revision.
Yep, there's a lot of waiting in this job of writing. And I try to use the waiting time productively. I really do. But I admit it, I sometimes spend too much time wondering about the thing I'm waiting for. Instead of doing something else productive. Something else that could help to move my career and my writing forward.
So recently I made a list of things I really needed to do. And I got to work doing them instead of focussing on the waiting.
I started arranging school visits. And, as I excitedly await the publication of my second picture book, I went back to this post from right before my first picture book was about to come out. And I used that blog post to make a list of all the things I could start working on-- a whole lot earlier this time.
It felt good to get moving in productive ways. Also, once I got moving, other things got moving too.
I checked in with my editor and she wrote back that my latest revision is in great shape. Hooray!
And after I started arranging school visits, my son's teacher contacted me to arrange for a visit to his class and some older grades as well. Once I started working on it, it felt like the universe was helping me out. Yay!
So, there will always be waiting, but I am really going to try to focus on it less, and keep myself doing the things I need to do more.
(But I still am busy waiting for this month's awesome SCBWI Western Washington annual conference! Now that's a once-a-year treat worth waiting for!)
So how do you wait? Are you able to keep yourself productive? How?
While I am waiting for word on a book out at publishers, I've done what most everyone advises - start another one.
I've started it. Barely.
I have about six chapters outlined, more or less, though when I write I find that I tend to add in different details or even ignore the outline as I go along.
Never gone is the specter of that "other" book, languishing on some slush pile or maybe sitting, forlorn, on some editor's desk. So I hope.
It's hard to forget something you've worked so hard on. Hard to get over it and go on to something else that easily, though I am trying.
So, what do you do when you are between books? Besides clean the fridge, eat or???
(Chapters I and II appeared on August 11th and September 28th of last year.)
LAST YEAR - PB truck story finally gets written and goes to a conference, PB truck story appeals to an editor and she takes it with her, PB truck story is revised twice (based on editorial suggestions) and resubmitted in November. Email from editor saying "looking forward to reading it over the long weekend." (Thanksgiving)
THIS YEAR - Email from editor on January 20th, "looking over it now . . . more thorough response soon."
Okay, so what explains nearly a month of silence?
I figure there are three possibilities:
1. My story is circulating among the editors.
2. It's sitting at the bottom of a pile, buried by more urgent business.
3. I didn't hit the mark with revisions and the editor is putting off writing a rejection letter.
QUANDARY - Do I email her now, or do I wait, wait, wait some more?
Perhaps the hardest part is the endless waiting that goes with this profession. You wait for word from a critique partner, then an editor or agent. When a book comes out, you wait for reviews and reader reaction and sales figures.
The question isn’t whether you will have to wait during the publishing process. You will. It’s a fact, no matter who you are. The question is how you will wait. Waiting involves more than entertaining yourself (with blogging, reading, watching movies, talking on the phone, or eating out) to make the time pass with less stress.
Ingredients of Waiting
If you want to survive in this thing we call the writing life, your waiting has to be different. While it’s a difficult skill to learn, you need to wait patiently, productively, and expectantly. Here’s what Webster’s has to say…so think about these traits in connection to your writing life.
Patiently: bearing pains, suffering, and trials without complaint; manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain; not hasty or impetuous; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.
Productively: having the quality or power of producing, especially in abundance; yielding results; continuing to be used in the formation of new words or constructions.
Expectantly: looking forward to something with a high degree of certainty; usually involves the idea of preparing or envisioning; much more than wishful thinking
Is that how you wait to hear from an agent or editor? Are you uncomplaining (to yourself, your critique group, your family, your blog readers)? Are you steadfast, not making hasty decisions (like sending angry emails or posting nasty comments in discussion groups)? Do you show forbearance under the strain? Then you wait patiently.
Do you work on other projects while you wait? Do you continue to study and go to your critique group? Do you refuse to sit and not write until you hear the fate of your current manuscript? Do you focus on the current work-in-progress, giving it your undivided attention? Then you wait productively.
Do you have a clear vision of where you want to be as a writer five years from now? A year? A month? Do you work hard and work consistently on your craft, expecting to improve steadily over time? Even while you wait, are you preparing yourself physically and mentally to be the writer you’ve always wanted to be? Then you wait expectantly.
Be a Professional
Wannabe writers complain when editors and agents don’t respond within a week. Wannabe writers won’t write another word until they sell their current manuscript. Wannabe writers continually tell themselves and others that the odds are terrible and they’ll never sell anything.
Professional writers don’t like waiting either–nor do they always like the answer that comes. But they don’t waste the waiting time. They use it to write and grow and move ahead.
Waiting well is a skill you can acquire. You (and everyone in your environment) will be happier if you learn this skill. Don’t let waiting times–no matter how long they drag on–cause a setback in your writing.
If waiting well is a problem for you, don’t just read this post, agree mentally, and move on with youAdd a Comment
Okay, you prepared (Stage One). You explored your options (Stage Two). You got started (Stage Three). Now you’re ready for Stage Four of “The Five Stages of Success”, where you survive and thrive.
You might have had a very fast start. That would be the writer who published the first thing he submitted, or his first novel was a Newbery Honor Book. These overnight successes are at the extreme end of the bell curve.
The other extreme end of the “survival and growth” stage is where you find the most dedicated, determined writers. They sell articles about “how I made my first sale on my 239th submission” or they sell a book they’ve been working on diligently for twenty years.
Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. This stage is the most challenging, partly because it’s usually the longest. There is a lot to learn about the writing business, and improving one’s writing craft simply takes time. If you know that and truly understand it, you will enjoy this stage of your success so much more.
It shouldn’t be rushed through. Try to resist society’s “instant gratification” message when it comes to your writing. More and more, I’m receiving emails from new writers saying, “I haven’t had a response in two months from a publisher. I shouldn’t have to wait to be published!” And I think, Why not?
Writers for centuries have had to wait and practice and revise before being published. And thank goodness they did! Even writers like Jane Austen didn’t write early drafts that were very good. So don’t get in a rush. All you will accomplish by that attitude is getting material self-published that is way less than your best is going to be. Nearly everyone I hear from who did this regrets it later.
So where’s the success in this stage if it takes such a long time?
I believe there are dozens and dozens of mini-successes spread throughout this stage. They include things like:
During this “surviving and growing” stage it’s easy to get fixated on all the things you can’t do yet. Don’t forget to notice–and celebrate–that you ARE making it! You are growing. You are getting there, step by step.
If I could do one thing over in my writinAdd a Comment
Waiting for the next wave isn’t just waiting.You sit in the water poised, active, watchful.You’re set to start swimming as soon as the wave comes in.You sit there frustrated or upset about not swimming yet, not catching a wave, or maybe you're a bit impatient.But that’s what waiting for a wave is all about: learning to cultivate patience.To write, you need to develop the ability to sit and watchAdd a Comment
It seems in this business we are constantly waiting for something:
waiting to finish
waiting for beta reader
waiting for feedback
waiting for agent
waiting for editors
waiting for emails
waiting for computer to be fixed
waiting for conferences
Sometimes the "waiting" gets to me. To where I just want to scream.
Here are all the things I do while waiting....
go through kids old clothes and pack up small ones
surf (the internet though I guess surfing on the coast of CA would be nice too)
Talk on the phone
Make new "friends" on Facebook
work on next book
catch up on TV
play with kids
check other email
decide to cook a homemade meal
burn homemade meal
make picture albums (or at least 1/2 of one)
curse industry for being so dang slow
write another book
line edit past books
read old rejection letters
burn old rejection letters
Come up with 10 reasons why I still need to wait
"research new book" - which really means surf Internet (hey - it adds 1 more thing to my list.)
mail out prizes that were won a month ago
catch up on Bookanistas posts
organize kitchen drawers
catch up on laundry
obsess over Publishers Marketplace
obsess over statcounter
wait some more.
What do you do while you are waiting for something to happen?
I’m always waiting on something, but at least — for the most part — I’m waiting on different stuff than I was last time. Including:
My next meeting to discuss the new title and the graphic approach that my editor and I will be using for my upcoming YA nonfiction book with Dial Books for Young Readers.
Reactions to the review copies of The Day-Glo Brothers now making their way out into the world.
Word from an editor on the (fingers crossed) next step for my well-received revision of my manuscript P.O.
Submissions of a couple of biography manuscripts, just as soon as the right editors are identified.
Feedback from my agent on a third biography manuscript.
Bolt-from-the-blue inspiration for a new picture book manuscript I’m working on. Failing that, actual work on the thing. By me, I suppose.Add a Comment
I've gotten several agent letters that open with warm words. What I've never experienced before was one that kept them up the whole way through!
I read MAY B this weekend, and I love it. The language is beautiful, it's page-turning, and there are so many wonderfully emotional moments. I'd love to talk with you about it sometime this week. Would Wednesday or Thursday work? Let me know.
I will keep all of you posted. Natalie, I have to thank you again for your amazing insight and direction. This new ending is so much stronger than what I had before.
One step closer...
This post is part of Steady Mom's 30 Minute Blog Challenge.
My manusript went on submission the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. As Agent Michelle sent MAY B. off on this first round, she told me to expect to hear back from editors anywhere from three weeks to three months. Sounded good to me! While submitting on my own, I 've had manuscripts out as long as fifteen months.
Still, she reminded me, everything in publishing takes longer than you would expect. Even though I've marked every Tuesday on my calendar from December through March, hoping responses come within that time frame, there's every chance they won't.
Thanksgiving through New Year's is always a slow time.
Getting back into routine after the holidays can take some time.
Is there ever a time in publishing when there isn't something to slow things down?
I told Michelle going in that I'd like to see the rejections that come her way. I've gotten two rejections so far, both prefaced by an upbeat comment from Michelle.
As for the others, I'm still waiting. waiting. waiting.
Anyone else waiting on a manuscript on submission? For those of you who have a contract, how long was your wait?
It's time for a new look around here! This little guy sits near the gardens at the castle in Spiez, Switzerland.
He's not writing or reading, but waiting? For sure. I'm not going to think too deeply about what he's waiting for (was his turning to stone publishing related?). Still, I like his expression. He's content to sit a while.
In a few days, I should have my headshots back from the lovely Crystal Sanderson, my son's former pre-K teacher, and photographer extraordinare. I'm feeling more author-ish as each day passes.
Here's to a fresh start and good news soon...
Rejection is part of the writing life. Writers have always struggled not to take rejection personally. Unless you’re super human, it deals a blow to one’s self-esteem.
“To be a writer is to be rejected. I’m not kidding,” says Rachel Ballon, Ph.D., author of The Writer’s Portable Therapist. “Those writers who stop writing the first time they’re rejected can’t call themselves writers because rejection is part and parcel of the writing game. It isn’t what happens to you IF you’re rejected, it’s what you do or don’t do WHEN you’re rejected.”
I get concerned when my writer friends and students get so beaten down by a rejection. (And with our struggling economy lately, rejections are happening more frequently.) Rejections do hurt, and the disappointment can be huge. All the “don’t take it personally” lectures don’t help much then. You need more, especially in the initial stages when the rejection is new and raw.
“Expect rejection and disappointments with the knowledge that you’ll recover from them,” says Ballon. “Be just as prepared for rejection as you’re prepared for an earthquake in California or a hurricane in Florida.”
I never thought of that before: prepare for rejection. It makes sense though!
Most of my family members live in Florida now, and when a tropical storm is building to hurricane status, they go into motion like a well oiled machine. Buy batteries and food staples. Nail plywood over windows. Make sure generator works. Stock up on drinkable water. They don’t just sit back and hope the hurricane veers off and misses them. They know that the likelihood of being hit by a hurricane is low, but definitely possible. Being prepared has saved their lives and property more than once. And their plans for recovery and clean-up go into effect as soon as the storm passes.
The likelihood of writers being rejected is about 100%–much worse odds than destruction from an earthquake or hurricane. But how many of us have a plan for recovering from that particular professional “disaster”? Not many, I’m guessing. But we should have. We know it’s coming from time to time. And I wonder if we wouldn’t respond better if we planned for it.
How do you plan for the day-perhaps after months of hopeful waiting or interested nibbles-when your story or novel or proposal is rejected? How can you prepare for it? Well, what makes you feel better when you’ve been rejected by someone in your personal life?
Chances are, those same things will help you through a manuscript rejection. They can be the solace for your bruised soul.
I think I’m going to make a list on a card called “Rejection Recovery Strategies” and tack it to my bulletin board. And the next time a book or propAdd a Comment
Last month I wrote about my frustration with revisions – the process I love to hate. Hate because I’m impatient. Love because the scenes that came out of my last round of rewrites are some of the strongest in the manuscript. Even though there were times I wanted to pull my hair out, there was something comforting hanging out with characters I knew so well I could order their drinks for them before they arrived for our lunch date. I had a purpose.
Now I feel as though I sprinted through a final leg of a race and crossed the finish line only to find there’s nothing there. Just me, bent over and panting, sweat dripping down my face and wondering, okay, now what?
It’s not for lack of ideas. I have several, but here’s where my impatience starts to bare its jagged teeth. I don’t want to start a new WIP. I want to be 100 pages into a WIP. Like, yesterday.
The in-between bothers me more than any other part of my process because this is the time when my fears and doubts come out and form a virtual conga line around my desk. Can I really pull this off again? What if I get 30 pages in and find out I’m wasting my time? What if someone writes a better book in the meantime with a similar plot? Besides, none of your characters have fangs, wings, or fur, so how marketable do you think this will be? On and on and on.
I know this too shall pass. I’ll trick myself long enough to get some real work done and lo and behold I’ll have 100 pages, something to work with, new characters who will become old friends. Until then, I’ll just have to deal. I’ll go to movies, read books, work my muscles to fatigue at the gym, hang out with writer buddies and talk about things we writers talk about, and try not to be too upset that Casey James got voted off of Idol last night. Hopefully, while I’m doing all of that, my subconscious will be cooking up a meaningful plot, so when I get my butt back in my chair, the blankness doesn’t swallow me whole.
So how do you spend your in-between time? Or are you lucky enough to have no idea what I’m talking about?