What NOT to Do While Waiting

Last week, I posted about the agony that is waiting for publishing news and what constructive, positive uses the writer can make to that (glacially-slow, interminable, torturous) time. Today, I thought I'd take a few moments to examine the flip side, so here's my list of wasteful or destructive things NOT to do while waiting. Recognize yourself here, anyone? :)

1. Check out the gushing reviews, glowing fan-mania, and/or awe-inspiring sales stats of an author you secretly consider less deserving. Especially not one who's a friend.

2. Chew out your own liver (with or without liquid support) over the fabulous publisher support of a debut author.

3. Allow yourself to think in terms of fairness or karma, neither of which have any damn place in publishing.

4. Try to make deals with Fortune, the Muse, God, or the Devil. None of whom give a rat's patootie about your little endeavor.

5. Drive your family and/or significant other either crazy or away with your alternating bouts of delusional optimism ("When I'm as successful as J.K. Rowling, I plan to *buy* the Queen of England.") and abject despair. ("I might as well slit my wrists this minute, because New York's silence clearly means that everyone I've queried is busy getting together to read excerpts aloud and laugh behind my back!")

6. Reread the submission you just sent off and start picking it to pieces. Or worse yet, send out three or four versions with increasingly-hysterical notes. ("Trash the last one! It really sucked! THIS is the one you want-no, this one!")

7. Loudly declare that this time is the last time, that you're through with all this publishing hoo-ha if this project doesn't sell. Because we all know you're a junkie, addicted to the chase.

8. Sit wild-eyed and drooling by the phone, computer, or your mailbox (in case you're dealing with some Luddite who's not down with technology) making scary, snarling noises if anyone else in the family dares approach.

9. Delete *any* document files from your hard drive.

10. Allow yourself to think, even for a single second, that any one publishing professional's tossed-off opinion is more important than the joy you find and the friends you meet in this excruciating, exhilarating pursuit that has gripped you like no other.

While we're having fun with this (or at least *I* am, what else would you add to the list?

By the way, thanks to Edward Munsch for the inspiration -- in case any of you were thinking this was a view from my webcam.


I think #5 pretty much covers it for me this time around.
Deeanne Gist said…
Do nothing. That's my biggest temptation. To just sit by the pool, eat lots of chocolate, and do absolutely nothing. That might be fine for a few days, but then it's time to get back in the saddle and start on something new. :)
You're right on that count, Dee!

And Angelica, I think we can all relate. There's no delusion fantasy/paranoia like a writer's!
Jo Anne said…
1) Stop reading, watching movies, and enjoying great storytelling for its joys. 2) Stop researching items of interest for possible future stories. 3) Stop exercising craft. 4) And stop supporting writing friends who are suffering their own anxieties, so that we don't feel their love and support helping us get through our own stuff.

Gad, we can be a dramatic bunch, can't we? :-) Fun post, Colleen.
Great additions, Jo Anne! Thanks for stopping by to play!
I think y'all have pretty much covered it--although I beg to differ with the one about God and the Muse. While I don't think we should make contracts with God or the muse, and certainly not the devil (although I did have a friend who swore he did that once and that his music started selling because of it), I do think there's a higher power who cares for us and yes, even for our "little" endeavors. I guess I'm more of the Steven Pressfield approach where that's concerned.

I think the best antidote to the waiting is to check in with ourselves and reevaluate our priorities. I also think it's probably NOT a good idea to follow the tweets of a particular agent or editor while you're waiting. I've been following several potential agents over the past few years, to get a feel for who I might (and might not) be able to work with, but once that puppy is sent off, I'm going to have to tie my hands behind my back not to read those tweets!

Now, if I could only tell all this to my subconscious . . .
And moving on is definitely a good thing.
I also remind myself frequently that whether or not a sale--or anything else beyond my control--happens isn't nearly as important as what I've gained from the act of writing or the kind of person I am along the way. And I also try to occasionally push back and laugh at how deadly seriously I sometimes take the whole thing. Which is what I thought I was doing with this post. :)
Christie Craig said…
Give up.
Lose hope.
Start comparing what you make to the average person asking if you'd like fries with that burger.

Great post!

Great suggestions, Christie! I laughed at #3. Hope you're doing well. Thanks for stopping by!
staceyapurcell said…
What a great post post because no matter where you are in the process, you're typically waiting for something! Even if it's just your critique partners comments on the last 20 pags. you sent them.
My total favorite is #10. I've always heard that writing is such a solitary thing- I have NEVER found that to be true. The best people I've met, like you, are in my writing circles and they are ALWAYS there for me.
Sheila said…
#5 and the first line of 6 cover it for me. I am positive they're talking about 'that Raven's' ms, or I,m picking apart my first few pages thinking "OMG, I sent them this?!" Anyhow, still waiting, however impatiently, and now editing my second in the series in hopes of a sale. Great post, Colleen.

Lark said…
Great tips, Colleen.

I'd like to add--listen to tales of horror of other writers' experiences. Why borrow trouble? My journey may be easier. It may be harder. The only thing I know for sure is it will be different.
@Stacey- Thank you! And I agree. The writers I've met have so enriched my life that publishing's just the icing on the cake!

@Raven- Laughing at our paranoia helps. Glad to hear you're moving forward.

@Lark- What a wise realization you've made. You're absolutely right that every writer's journey's different. And some writers' war stories serve only to terrorize others. It's like when you're pregnant and people feel the need to regale you with stories of miscarriages, deliveries-gone-horribly-wrong, and their second cousin, Martha, who gave birth to a cat-faced troll with the feet of a pigeon. :) Why? Why? Whyyyyy?
Jo Anne said…
Good one, Lark - that is absolutely so true. Not that listening to others doesn't make us wiser, but much like puberty, I think we have to make our own mistakes to travel our path. That's what the journey's all about.

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