Monday, February 17, 2014

The Upside of Waiting

If you're a writer trying to get published, waiting is an inevitable part of life. You wait for a contest result, a reply from an agent, a yes or no from an editor, for the annual conference to come around again. You wait for revisions, edits, cover art, and your release date. Then there are other waits--your first reviews, sales reports, royalty statements. And the cycle starts again when you submit your next book.

I've been blessed to spend years waiting. Most days I don't think of it as a blessing. In fact, very few days do I thank the Lord for my wait. Usually it just sits inside my heart like a jagged piece of crystal, weighing, poking, hurting. But even in my baby-ish emotions (I want it now, waaah!), I comprehend the upside to waiting.

1. I'm a better writer. 

My writing has become more complex with all the practice I've gotten over the years. I instinctively understand things that I had to piece together when I started submitting. By no means would I consider myself a master, but it's good for the soul to truly know you've improved.

2. The publishing industry is not a big mystery as it once was.

I've been following publishing news for several years. Blogs, magazines, conferences, agents, editors, and other writers--all have informed me. Knowledge throws reality on expectations. It's good to know what you're getting into. Sure, getting published is a dream come true, but it doesn't make all your dreams come true.

3. Humble confidence

I can't speak for all newer writers, but it's easy to buy into your own hype. An editor requested your first novel? It must mean you're a genius! This is your destiny!

Long waits pave the way for rejections. Rejections fill you with humility. Humility brings you back to the drawing board and forces you to admit your weaknesses. Then you address those weaknesses by studying, trying to overcome them in your next book, finding critique partners to help point out ways you can improve. And when you repeat this, you gain confidence in your writing. But it isn't puffed up, prideful confidence. It's humble. And it's real.

4. You understand how much you want it.

Ask any writer how badly they want to see their work in print, and you'll be reduced to tears at the sincerity oozing from them. We ALL want it. But time has a way of weeding out those willing to sit in a state of failure for years on end because they believe in their dream. They want it on a level many writers claim but few put in practice.

Let me ask you this. If someone told you it would take exactly two years, three months, and five days from the day you first submitted to an editor until the day you were offered a contract, would the time seem reasonable? What if the prediction was five years, eleven months, and twenty days? How about eight years, three months, and one day?

What if you wrote steadily throughout those years? What if you wrote fifteen novels? Twenty? And what if you still didn't have a contract?

Would you give up? Decide you don't have what it takes? Assume every published writer has talent but you don't?

No one knows how long it will take to get published. Might be your first book. Might be your twenty-second.

But I can tell you one thing. The longer your wait, the more you realize how much you want it. You take nothing for granted. Nothing. Every tiny crumb that comes your way becomes a three-layer cake. Small beginnings? Brilliant. Jesus himself fed five thousand people with a few fish and a couple loaves of bread.

Whether you've just begun your wait or have slogged through years of it, remember there is an upside. And on the days you can't find an upside, know you aren't alone. Most writers are waiting.

Do you see an upside in waiting? 

Have a terrific day!


  1. there is definitely a benefit to waiting - sometimes it is easier to see those benefits with hindsight, though. :D We waited for 5 years for our daughter and we have been blessed every day since she was placed with us and when I look back, I can see little blessings that were sent our way during the wait. :D

  2. I love your story, Kristina, and it's obvious your sweet girl means the world to you. I can't imagine you ever taking a minute of life with her for granted. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. Yes, yes, yes! I kept nodding in agreement throughout your post, Jill. Especially the fact that waiting makes us better writers. In the waiting, I tend to have time to revise and tighten my writing, and also read a bit more to learn from other writers' styles and storytelling gifts. GREAT post, my friend!

  4. Thanks, Donna! Yes, waiting is a great time to read and learn. I'm astounded at how many things I want to try after reading a master! :)

  5. Jill: We waited nine plus years for our son to find a good job- one that would last,one that paid a livable salary, one that would make him feel good about what he did. Well, three years ago, he got his chance. The upside to waiting is we became friends. The downside is we don't get to see him very often- he had to move 600 miles away and Hubby's health is such that we don't believe we can travel that far,

  6. I love the upside--that you became friends. I understand all too well the downsides. We don't live near either sets of our parents. It's hard. We miss them.

  7. The upside, to me, is that life goes on through the waiting, and life is really about journeys, not arrivals.

  8. Great reminder! Life IS all about the journey. :)

  9. This was a beautiful, heartfelt post. Someone once said to me that no one deserves to be published more than I do (me), because I had worked so hard at it. But it's not about whether we deserve it due to how hard we've worked. I suspect that compared to many others who are also residing on unpubbed island, I've hardly worked at all.

    I haven't even begun to send things out, although that day is approaching. And yet I find myself afraid, almost, not of failing, but of succeeding. The bar gets raised at that point. There are new challenges, and I wonder if I'm up to them.

    For now, there is nothing more pleasant than simply working my story. The writing's getting easier. I'm continuing to learn. It's a great place to be, but I do pray that God will give me the courage to take the next steps, and soon.

  10. Thank you, Cathy. I understand. We do work hard! And getting that dream can feel frightening. Life changes, right? But I trust God will help us handle the good with the bad. Thank you for stopping by!

  11. Amen to that, sister! Great post to remember what He teaches us in the wait! Thanks for the reminder.


I love to hear from you!