“He who waits wins.” Which sounds a lot like that other one that gets thrown around a lot, “Good things come to those who wait.”
There’s often a lot of truth to be found in the old adages. In this case, I happen to disagree.
Here are the things that come to those who wait: frustration, annoyance, frustration, annoyance, um, did I mention the frustration? And frankly, I believe, not much else.
If you want something, you have to go get it, and that is the truth.Occasionally the wind will blow something you want onto your doorstep, but this is not a thing you can count on.
But, you may say, sometimes you have to wait. For traffic, in grocery store lines, for agents and editors and customer assistance representatives. And you’ve got a point there. As annoying as it is to wait on a long line of traffic for the moment when you can safely make that left hand turn, your choices are pretty limited. Wait, or end up dead. Which, I suppose, is worse than the frustration and annoyance of waiting.
Likewise – if you call, email bomb, or otherwise harass an agent or editor – that’s not likely to end well for you either. And you can’t cut lines in the grocery store unless you want to provoke a lynching. You can hang up on the customer service representative phone line cue if you wish, but this means not getting your issue addressed and you’ll just have to call again later and start all over again.
So – the adage is right after all, you might say. Waiting is a virtue and the way to win it all.
Not so fast, there, Skippy.
Here’s the other side of the coin. Let’s take traffic, for example. If you’re scared, if you don’t trust your driving skills and your ability to judge the speed of approach of all of the other two-ton missiles out there, or if you believe all of the drivers are hell bent on destruction of themselves and others, you could wait until the cows come home before making that left hand turn. (And if you’re sitting in traffic like that, it’s probably going to be a long time before the cows show up).
LIkewise, you can wait forever, with the very best of intentions, to query an agent on a project (it’s not good enough, I’m not good enough, what if I get rejected?) and the result will inevitably be that you will never hear anything back from an agent. They can’t respond if you didn’t query.
This goes on: if you don’t start the manuscript it won’t ever get written. If you wait to make changes, the necessary revisions will never happen. It’s tempting to wait “until I’m a better writer” before diving into a book idea, I know, but how are you going to become a better writer if you don’t write? Or a better driver if you don’t drive, or whatever.
What I would suggest is that the adage of “good things come to those who wait” is only half true. The part that’s missing is knowing when to wait, and when to act. Which leads me directly to Kenny Rogers. (Yes, my brain works this way. Deal with it.) Also, in case you don’t know this song and aren’t inclined to wait and watch the video:
“You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away, know when to run…”