Friday, October 25, 2013

Patience is a Virtuous Bitch

It's been 11 weeks since I took a deep breath, procrastinated, took another breath, procrastinated again, and then sent my manuscript out into the world. 11 weeks, 8 email one-line rejections (make that 9-I got one more between writing and editing this blog entry), 4 snail mail rejections, and 2 I've-read-your-MS-but-it's-not-for-me rejections.

Though I'd read the statistics, heard the stories, I had thought I'd be different. I thought my top three agents would not only swoon over my work but fight over me. Three weeks in, they all rejected me within a week of each other. My work, not me. My work.

But I had set my goal to 100. I was going to query 100 agents before moving on to plan B. Last week, I realized I'd queried 40 agents in 10 weeks. This is a bit too fast, a bit too eager. So I've decided to wait.

They say patience is a virtue and that may be true, but she's kind of a bitch about it, kind of righteous in her all-knowing-I-know-what's-best-for-you ways. We can work as hard as we want, but at the end of the day, she calls the shots, she decides when our big break comes. For the sake of any children reading this, I'll call her the B word, but in my head, she's a word that starts with the next letter over.

Once you succumb to Patience, once you resign yourself to her as your boss and life-decider, she blows your life open.

You see that you have more stories in you. Stories that have been waiting to come out except your brain was a car crash site, a shut-down highway crawling with ambulances and fire trucks and traffic eeking by the peripheries (it should be noted I just did a 24 hour road trip to LA) giving these stories nowhere to land, to feel safe. But now that you've calmed down and accepted reality, accepted that waiting is part of the game, they're making themselves known.

There is also the fact that this, your first novel, may have been...sorry I need a may have been...deep may have been...just crawling out from under my desk... practice. It may have been the one you learned on, cut your teeth on, a three-year, life-consuming practice ground that, when you were in it, felt like the real thing, but with 11 weeks of perspective, may not be the one to get published. 11 weeks ago, I'd have laughed at you. 11 weeks ago, I was confident, I was the exception to the rule, I was invincible. Now, I believe them.

The ray of hope is I'm not the only one. Okay, so this particular ray is fighting its way through a giant storm cloud because it's not a lot to hang onto, but it's there, if you look hard enough, long enough (okay, Patience, I get it. You're everywhere and I should accept you. Now go away, this is my blog).

I recently attended an all day workshop where I learned from people who had been writing for 20 and 30 years that:

a) none of us knows what we're doing (there really are no rules to writing)
b) it never gets easier (book 1 nearly kills you, book 2 gets harder, book 3 harder still)
c) none of the above stops us from doing it again and again

Last year at this time, I was actually keeping my calendar free assuming that, two months after submitting my work, I would be on a book tour, sipping champagne from a Parisian balcony below which my adoring fans gathered hoping I'd drop a crumb of my chocolate covered strawberry that they could take home and preserve for posterity.

In reality, I'm sitting in a cafe in Fremont (Desi capital of California, life's not all bad) working on my next story. Because some of you may remember, I can be very stubborn. Or maybe I really am a writer. Verdict's still out.

But then it occurs to me that at this moment, I am sitting across from a dear writing buddy who is part of a fierce clan of writers who hold me up every day. And later I'm going to teach Bombay Jam which fills me with inordinate amounts of happiness.

So it turns out despite the soul-on-a-skewer wait for publication, life is going on.

Take that, Patience.