The Writer’s Waiting Game


Query letters have been sent. Competition entries have been submitted. Drafts have gone off to beta readers. In the age of instant gratification, waiting for a response in the writing world is a grueling endeavor. Weeks and months are a long time to wait when you’re dying to know whether your work is good enough to get picked up by a publisher. Or at the very least, whether somebody like it well enough to say, “good job.”

In the case of waiting for a literary agent to respond to a query letter, I go in with the assumption that nothing but silence with follow my inquiry. When a kindly worded rejection shows up in my inbox, I’m thrilled. Positive thinking is a powerful thing on this journey. So is keeping busy. The wait for any sort of a response is agonizing and it never seems to end. You’ll go nuts unless you keep yourself occupied with something other than obsessing over that elusive response.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve perfected the art of waiting with distraction. Trust me, keeping yourself busy makes the process a lot easier to take and in many ways softens the blow of rejection. Here’s a few ways to keep your muse inspired and give your patience a boost…

1) Keep writing.

Start that next novel or punch out a few short stories. Maybe even dabble in poetry or non-fiction articles.  Follow your muse and write because you are a writer, regardless of your publication credits, (or lack thereof). Sometimes a “distraction” piece can turn into something great. My second novel began as a distraction and ended up as my passion project. It got me through a number of rejections and ultimately lead me to a new path.

2) Research literary agents.

Finding the right agent takes a lot of work. It takes research, research, and more research. Every agent has different tastes, query package requirements, and personalities. For those of us playing the waiting game, all the work and time required to find the right agent plays right into our hands. It takes a lot of time to compile a list of possible agents and prepare customized query packages. Luckily, time is something we have in plentiful supply!

3) Read.

Every writer I know is also a voracious reader. Between loving a good book and wanting to figure out how published authors crafted a great story, writers are inherently addicted to reading. While waiting for any sort of response to arrive, it’s nice to escape to another world and enjoy the ride. Plus, some authors thank their agents on the acknowledgments page. This ties in nicely to #2.

4) Edit.

Most writers are never happy with a “final” draft. We’re always looking to make a sentence better or find a more perfect word. My final draft for The Muse has been altered (albeit slightly) multiple times since I started pitching it. A word here, a comma there, I’m always tinkering with it to make everything about it a little bit better. It’s time consuming and tedious work, but well worth every hour. While waiting for that one e-mail to arrive, I am happily ensconced in my fantasy world.

5) Find a hobby.

My craft closet has more stuff in it than my clothes closet.  When an afternoon of writing is done, I’ll pull out a craft project to keep my hands busy and my mind occupied. It beats sitting around and thinking about why an agent hasn’t sent an excited request to read my manuscript. Of late, knitting has been my savior as it inspires my creativity and challenges me to try new things. My muse loves it, too. While I’m knitting row after row, she whispers to me and new stories are born.

This weekend, I sent off my entry to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, which means a new round of waiting and waiting has commenced. I suspect my to-read stack of books will get shorter and the sweater I’m knitting will soon have sleeves.

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c.b.w. 2014

Campaign Challenge #1: The Call


The first challenge for the Fourth Writers’ Platform Building Campaign is up and running!  The games begin with a round of flash fiction that follows these guidelines:

Click the image to see other entries to this challenge!

My muse and I came up with “The Call” for my entry.  Hope you enjoy the read!

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The Call

Shadows crept across the wall as the months passed without a word.  Leaves of summer cast gray silhouettes against faded paint.  Barren branches of winter cut through moonlight and slice through the windowpane. Then, delicate petals arrive in spring and leave gentle imprints on the back of an empty chair.  It’s been more than a year since someone sat in that seat.

Every morning, she wondered if the answer she needed would finally come.  They kept telling her there was nothing she could do, but wait.  So, wait she did with her cup of tea.  She poured another and placed it in the space beside her.  The steam swirled and curled into the air until it eventually disappeared.  Worry lines etched new pathways around her eyes and forehead as the minutes of another day slipped away.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

She stared at the wall and begged for today to be the day.  Any news is better than none after so much time of maddening silence. Her tea grew cold as an early spring sun warmed the afternoon.  Amid the fragrance of orange blossoms in the air, the phone rang and everything faded.

(192 words)

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Be sure to check out all the other wonderful entries and vote for your favorites, here.  I am #93.

c.b. 2012