Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Importance of Patience

One thing I've learned over the past three plus years is that this business of writing requires a tremendous amount of patience.

Traditionally, I have no patience. Ask my mother if I have any patience. Ask my siblings. They'll look at you like you're out of your mind and laugh until they pee their pants.

This writing thing wasn't any different at first. I whipped my first book out, gave a quick once-over and shot it off to perspective agents. Needless to say, that didn't go well.

Over the years I've acquired patience. I've had to. It was either that or shoot myself in the foot. It takes patience to go through the same manuscript over and over looking for ways to make it better. It takes patience to polish until you're cross-eyed before you send your work out. It takes patience to not contact my CP and my betas every day and twice on Sundays to ask them if they're done yet. (You think the 'can you hear me now' guy is irritating, try someone tapping you on the shoulder and asking if you're done reading something yet.)

Without patience, I would've contacted the publisher who's had my second book for the past couple months. And afterwards they would've taken my submission and put it into file 13*, with a quick note in my SASE telling me my work wasn't quite right for them. Nobody likes a pest.

Without patience, I would've driven away every quality reader I have. They have lives, too. One works a full-time job and shares the load of homeschooling her children, plus takes the time to sew. Another is a writer herself working on numerous projects, plus maintaining a life of her own. A third is raising four kids. We all have things to do. I respect that, and I'm grateful for the time they take out of their days to look at my work. (And I'm happy to do whatever I can for them, too.)

I guess my point is, if you're reading this and you're finding yourself leaning toward the impatience that hovers behind you, stop. Tell it to bugger off. If you find yourself typing out an e-mail asking where your manuscript is, stop. Go find something else to do. If you find yourself on the verge of screaming in frustration that another day has passed without a response from your query, and you're hovering by the phone waiting for the agent to call you before you can no longer stop yourself from calling them... Take a friggin' nap.

You'll thank yourself later. And for every little bit of patience you acquire, treat yourself to something nice. A bubble bath (they're good for guys, too, btw), buy a new book, listen to some relaxing music while you eat a hot fudge sundae. Just whatever you do, remember: You can do it. You can learn to be patient.

If I can do it, anyone can. Trust me.

(Now where did I put that damn can of whipped cream?)


Wendy Roberts said...

I have very little patience. I think I've gotten better at tricking myself into doing what needs to be done with my manuscripts but I don't know if I've really learned patience LOL.

B.E. Sanderson said...

LOL, Sometimes you have to trick yourself or the impatience takes over. I bet you're more patient than you think. (Or maybe I'm tricking myself more than I think.)

Anonymous said...

thank you for saving my life.

Alex Adams said...

Patience is not one of my virtues either.

B.E. Sanderson said...

=oD Glad I could help, Karen.

Heh. That's why we work so well together, Alex. LOL