HTT: How to Waiting

So the complete manuscript of my first novel is on a publisher's desk right now, somewhere in the upper regions of Washington State, just kinda sitting there.

I couldn't tell you if it's been read yet, or if it's buried with a hundred other manuscripts, if a very nice rejection letter is being crafted, or if the entire office has been waiting to get their hands on it before they drop a "Happy Bomb" in my eagerly waiting lap.

Or any particular combination of any of that.

I have no idea.

And the waiting is brutal.

At this point I'm not sure if I should be picking out a tie for an interview at McDonalds, reading books on transcendental meditation, or highlighting passages to read for my Fresh Air interview.

Or any particular combination of any of that.

I have no idea.

The way it all works is this: You send off a proposal which includes a brief description, a synopsis, and the first fifty pages. Every publisher gets about a thousand of these things a month, so it's needle in a haystack. You've got to have a good articulate idea, a well crafted storyline, and be able to put enough cool words together to sound like you're more than just a typist.

Generalizations like "It's a coming of age story with a happy ending!" or "It's a love story . . . but get this . . . there are vampires!" will get your email address quickly forwarded to the spam filter and the only writing you're bound to be doing over the next part of your life is answering questions like "Why  are you interested in this position?" and "Tell me why I should hire you."

or . . . you know . . . blogging.

Anyway, after hitting the "Send" button, you get a quick response that says "Gee, thanks, don't call us, we'll call you . . . in 4-6 weeks."

I got mine in the middle of Week 8.

Yes, of course I counted.

And I'm not butt-hurt in the slightest, I got outrageously lucky. They approved of my needle.

The next part is you send off the compete book, and after you hit "Send" you get another quick response that says "Gee, thanks, we'll let you know in 3-6 weeks, please be patient."

But being patient, no matter how close you are to Maharishi Mahesh, is really the one thing you can't do.

It's the middle of Week 6 now, and every time my inbox makes that little "ping" sound my heart drops another 4 inches. I have to keep a good supply of those airport vomit bags within arms reach.

It's like being at the top of a roller coaster ride and you're in a panic because your safety bar never clicked in all the way.

Anyway, I pondered this this morning because I've discovered that both with music and with writing, I've been spending such a vast amount of time waiting for responses, that I've developed a technique for dealing with it without even knowing I was doing so.

So for today's How To Tuesday I thought I'd share a few of my best waiting methods, not that it will ever be easy, but, maybe just maybe, a little easier.

First thing you do after hitting "Send" is to treat yourself to something fantastic. Steak, mashed potatoes, a super hoppy IPA, and if my SO is agreeable, a ten minute foot rub. These are me things. You can go get your nails done, take a day trip on your motorcycle, or pick a fight with Edward Norton. Whatever. All you want to do here is to trick your brain into thinking that every submission is a celebration.

Second thing you do is plan to treat yourself on the day of the response, for good or for bad. I have a cigar I've been saving and before I tell a soul what happened, I'm going to sit out on my porch with an  unreasonably expensive bottle of wine, and remind myself how decadently wonderful life is when you get the chance to stop and think about it.

Next . . . plan for the next step. If it's a "No" the that's okay, you know where you are and you can do it all again with particular ease. If it's a "Yes" then remind yourself to be humble and act like a professional. There are speed bumps coming that you can't even begin to anticipate.

Okay, so now you've tricked your brain into thinking life is good, and you've got a mental roadmap for the day after tomorrow, if ever tomorrow comes, now is the time to keep the crazy at bay.

You gots to get busy.

I'm particularly lucky in the fact that I'm a father, a husband, a house wife, a musician, and an amateur genealogist. There's algebra to learn, backs needing to be scratched, dishes to do, shows to prep for and I still haven't found proof that my great grandmother's claim to being related to the Mayflower passengers is anything more than wishful thinking. I'm never not busy.

Okay, so let's say you've got productivity skills. Next is how to keep those late-night/mid-afternoon demons from messing with your sense of self worth.



Get lost somewhere/someplace else.

Curl on the couch with a hot cup of chamomile and follow Alice down the rabbit hole. Join the fight against Voldemort. Dance with dragons.

Pro tip: Stay away from Nietzsche and Shel Silverstein. Fredrick will lead to excessive drinking, and the Giving Tree will turn you into a bawling mess.

Other things to avoid are Neflix and shopping malls. You don't want to talk yourself into purchasing a leather recliner with a massage function and I somehow breezed through every episode of "The West Wing" only to stand up and realize no one in my house had been fed for four days and the amount of gray in my beard had quadrupled since the last time I stopped shaving.

And last but not least, unchain yourself from your email for long stretches in the day.

I check in the morning with my coffee, the afternoon; in the dead space between rehearsals and picking up my son from school, and after dinner.

Any more than that and you're likely to develop heart palpitations.

As I said, waiting is never going to be easy.

Sorry about that.

It's just something you have to do.

And by "You" . . .

I mean "Me"

1 comment:

  1. Riding a motorcycle or a fight with Ed Norton? How about both, but not the Ed that did the Hulk movie! What was the name of the film wher he plays the priest? Ya,that one.