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If you’re going to RWA’s national convention this summer, chances are you’ll be among those who face their very first nerve-wracking, nail-biting appointment with an editor or agent. You’ve prepared your pitch, practiced and taken notes, planned your oufit. Your hook has been honed to razor sharpness, your storyline is original, your writing is flawless. You sit down, manage not to throw up on her shoes, and come away with a request to send in a partial manuscript for her review. You float home from the conference in a fog of euphoria, having immersed yourself in the world of writing and dipped your toe into the tricky waters of publishing. That manuscript is polished and in the mail within the week.

My hook’s been slipped
My line’s been sunk
Why can’t that editor
Fall in love with my hunk?

Then you wait. You polish that manuscript some more, giving it a tweak here and a twist there. You join a critique group to get some feedback. You decide to enter some writing contests and final in a few, bolstering your confidence and giving you a much needed boost while you continue to wait.

My heroine’s the best
My prose is sublime
Why can’t that editor
Give me some time?

You work hard on that next story, ignore the empty mailbox and focus on your writing. You discover that you’re getting better, and you’re determined to make this manuscript even better than the first. And you wait.

I’ve mastered the boundaries between ‘showing’ and ‘telling’
I can even express point of view without yelling
I know that she’s busy, I know that it’s rough
But when will that editor get to my stuff?

All that hard work really starts to pay off. You begin to see great room for improvement in that first manuscript. If you work on a rewrite, it’ll be even better! The possibilities are endless, and that rewrite keeps you busy while you . . . wait.

But let’s not be hasty
I’m willing to edit
If only I knew
That she’d finally get it!

You keep at it, gritting your teeth and smiling when family and friends ask you ‘why is it taking so long to hear about your book’? Don’t they realize this writing life is hard work and requires patience? It’s a serious business, so you learn your craft and you learn the industry while you write the next NY Times best-seller.

How do you answer
“How’s the writing thing going?”
When the true answer is
“I have no way of knowing.”

And then about the time it sinks in that you’ve been waiting a really long time, something else becomes apparent. That time of waiting was useful for its own sake, whether or not you ever get the “Call” from that particular editor/agent, or the dreaded rejection letter. You took the first step to becoming a real writer by putting yourself out there, and it’s made you a better one along the way. It made you think of yourself differently, and made you work harder.

If it’s true what they say
And dreams do come true,
Then excuse me, but
I’ve got some waiting to do.

I say ‘hurry up and wait’ by getting your stuff out there. There’s always next year’s conference, and plenty of editors and agents to query in the meantime, if you’re brave enough.

What are you waiting for?


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