Deb Kelly Knows How to Wait. She Just Prefers Not To.

Gratuitous Spring Cuteness
Gratuitous Spring Cuteness

I’m not an especially religious person (unless you count science as a religion) but with this week’s topic being about waiting right in the midst of Passover, the week of Palm Sunday and Good Friday, my mind does turn to spiritual matters. I’m a wildly impatient person and the thought of having to sit around waiting for the 10th plague to pass or waiting for history’s first frenemy to betray me to the Romans puts my irritation with the amount of time it takes my toddler to eat a single scrambled egg into perspective.

When it comes to waiting in the publishing gig, I short-circuited the worst wait (submission) for this debut novel I keep talking about (The Good Luck Girls of Something Something…)  by doubling that process up with waiting for BLB to be born. He came early, thoughtful boy, and the book itself sold right around when his due date was supposed to be. I don’t remember it very well. I was so crazed by breastfeeding insanity and postpartum ouch that when my agent called to tell me about an early bid, I actually answered the phone saying, “I am completely topless and sitting on a doughnut right now; what do you need?” (Someone remind me to send her flowers on my pub day.)

In other words, it could be said that I have not had the proper experience of waiting, waiting, waiting for the phone to ring. It has been said.

But here is a secret I have confided to very few people: when I first started out writing I attempted to write a straight up romance novel. Apparently I wasn’t that good at it. But I wasn’t bad enough to get turned down quickly. I would submit, wait a month, two, three, get kind editorial letters, revise painstakingly, and then submit again, rinse and repeat. One time I waited six months for a read, and got… yep, another editorial letter. I did this again and again, for several kind editors, and never got past the revision letters. (The romance business works a bit differently than the rest of publishing, in that you can knock directly on the door of the publisher instead of needing to secure an agent first–if you are up for the bald rejection and long wait times.) The take away from this is that 1. romance novels are incredibly hard to write well, and 2. oh, I’ve waited, all right. The whole process took years. It chiseled away at me, filled me with doubt, and eventually, taught me how to wait.

I learned to meditate, to distract myself with elaborate pursuits, to keep my head down, to scream in frustration and still keep going, and overall, I learned the fundamental truth behind a saying that became my mantra during that time: A slow yes is better than a fast no.

But most of all, I learned that every now and then, a quick yes is pretty freaking amazing.

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This article has 3 Comments

  1. First – the gratuitous picture is adorable. On other subjects, I find it fascinating how life works. In publishing, as in other things, there seem to be these long, dull stretches of nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing, and then a whole year’s worth of events dump on you all at once.

  2. uitous picture is adorable. On other subjects, I find it fascinating how life works. In publishing, as in other things, there seem to be these long, dull stretches of nothing. Nothing, nothin

  3. I wrote my post for tomorrow before I read this…and then I cracked up. Because I TOTALLY agree that a slow yes is better than a fast no – and tomorrow’s post is absolutely riffing on the exact same theme.

    Also: your response to your agent is hilarious. I hope it was equally appreciated at the time.

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