I loathe waiting. I have no patience. And this isn’t a new development.
All my life, I’ve tried to hurry the milestones … but after more than four decades of rushing, I’ve finally realized that the hurried thing never turns out as well as the one that comes along in its proper time.
Hurry the cupcakes?
You’d better like cupcake soup. (But it sounds kind of nasty.)
Hurry a coral? It isn’t going to grow.
Hurrying the calendar is about as effective as teaching stones to sing.
(My church has a “rock choir” – but can’t for the life of me figure out how they trained them.)
But if I have to pick the worst result I’ve ever had from refusing to wait, I’d have to say … publication. Or, more properly, the lack thereof.
The first draft of my first manuscript placed in the finals of a major writing contest. I hadn’t revised it because I was in a hurry, and I thought my “instant success” bespoke far greater talent than it really did. Multiple agents asked for the full … and every one turned me down.
But instead of revising, rewriting, and learning … I wrote another book.
I revised that second manuscript twice – that’s three full drafts! I was proud. I was finished. I sent it out. And again, I received rejections.
Batter up! I wrote manuscript #3. This time I revised four times. Four drafts! Hooray! – and I also found a peer editor to help me improve my prose. Once again I queried.
Once again, I jumped too soon.
By the fourth time around, I’d learned my lesson. I waited. I polished. I studied. Draft 6 went to peer editors, draft 8 to agents. Still rejections, but this time most of my queries received requests for partials or fulls.
But during the process of writing that fourth one, I figured out something even more important than how to put words on a page, or even how to put them in proper order: I learned my voice wasn’t right for historical fiction – I was a mystery author who needed to play to her strengths.
But for the wait, and the years of effort, I wouldn’t have found my voice.
I don’t like waiting any more than anyone else – and I tolerate waiting far worse than most people do. Yet when it comes to writing, I welcome the time, the work, and even the wait – because I now understand that the waiting has made me better than I was before.
What lessons have you learned from waiting? Has a wait ever made you better, despite your impatience?
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