Friday, October 24, 2008

5 Stages of Waiting

Here’s another process that’s very important to being a professional writer: Waiting.
You come up with your ideas, write them and edit to hit some deadline or a window of opportunity for submitting it somewhere. That’s a whirlwind of work, creation and refinement also known as “the good stuff”. The waiting comes when you must deal with the rest of the world.

And I’m not referring to those fortunate writers who submit something and have to wait through a whole weekend or two before they get their deal. That’s great if it happens, but it’s not the norm. It’s more like earning your salary by winning the lottery. And that’s nothing against the talent of those quick-dealers. The whole system is generally very slow and any writer will tell you that you have to wait for any results whatsoever. Wait a LOT.

While I’m waiting to hear back from submissions, I’ve found I go through some pretty basic stages. These held up when I waited to get a short story published in a small press magazine, to get an agent, and now to get a book (or series) published. Maybe some of this seems familiar to some other writers out there. For those of you new to the craft, it’s something to look forward to. After all, in the immortal words of GI Joe, “Knowing is half the battle”. And if you’re one of those folks who got your huge contract in less than eight months, good for you. I do hate you, though.

Stage 1: Denial – “This time it’ll be different! I’ll send it in and the first person who’s lucky enough to read it will trip all over themselves to give me a deal! I’d better be ready for the landslide that’ll follow this one. Should I subscribe to Publisher’s Weekly so I can read the awesome news before it hits the news stands?”

Stage 2: Bargaining – “Come on! It’s been what, three weeks? I haven’t heard anything so that’s gotta be good. That editor must be wondering if I can truly handle following through on the amazing idea I showed them in that proposal. I can handle it! I swear, if I get my chance with this, I’ll run with it! I’ll RUN like the WIND!! Who am I talking to? It doesn’t matter. The forces of good will carry my desire and happy thoughts to where they need to be. I can’t doubt for one moment that this is gonna happen or I’ll jinx it. Oh, shit! Did I just jinx it? No. I can DO THIS!!!”

Stage 3: Anger – “Damn it! It’s been three months!! Freaking editors are always on vacation. Freaking system doesn’t even move. What the hell is going on out there?! I should stomp into whatever break room they’re using to suck down their coffee and show them my GENIUS!!!! This is ridiculous! If I had the crappiest office job imaginable I’d never have to wait this long to get results from handing something in! I crank out more starlight from my printer and they take a month off for ONE HOLIDAY!!”

Stage 4: Depression – “It’s been over six months. I’m not gonna hear anything. Honestly, what did I expect? Those editors have either tossed my submission away like the garbage it is or they’re laughing at it. I think that telemarketing firm is hiring. Maybe I’ll try that.”

Stage 5: Acceptance – “Eh, screw it. I did the best I could, so I just need to wait for something to happen. There’s not much else for me to do. Actually, I’ve got an idea for something else. Maybe I’ll try that.”

Unfortunately for my wife and anyone else who has to deal with me (a big sorry goes out to my agent who still returns my calls and answers emails from every one of these stages), I may go through this cycle several times while waiting for one submission. If this sounds familiar to anyone out there, at least I’m not alone. That’s the problem with not working in an office. I don’t get to gripe to fellow co-workers.

As far as waiting goes, the simple truth is that you gotta do it whether you go through these stages or any other sort of ritualistic torture. Cry, whine, howl, work, shrug, it doesn’t matter. In the end, you’ll still be waiting. Of course, every so often, the waiting is worth it. And when it is. . .it’s REALLY worth it.

This is what happens without editors

I'm Marcus Pelegrimas, author of the SKINNERS series. Here you'll find various ramblings about movies, video games, TV, and...oh yeah...those books I write. If there's anything you'd like to discuss, just let me know. I try to update whenever the mood strikes me, so feel free to leave comments. There may be some occasional foul language, but anyone who's too easily offended probably doesn't read my stuff anyway.

Free Stuff

Here's how it goes. As usual, I've got my truckload of promo covers from EOS Books. I'll be going to some conventions, so I hope to see you there and I'll gladly sign your books. If you can't make it to a con, just email me your name, address and any inscription so I can send you a signed cover.

BONUS ---> If you would be so kind as to write up a review for any or all Skinners books and publish it on a site like, Barnes & Noble, Borders, or any other major review site, I can send you something extra. I made up some bookmarks (which I'll sign) and I've even put together some Shimmy's VIP passes (which I'll also sign). Can't guarantee the passes will get you into a real strip club, but I think they look pretty cool. Send me a link to your review along with your name, address and inscription, and I'll get these out to you as well.