The Virtues of Waiting

We have a family friend who cautions against praying for patience. "I know not to pray for patience," she says, "because when you pray for patience, God grants you opportunities to practice it."

Writing a book is a strange process, or at least, it has been for me. It feels almost bipolar. In the ideation stage, I had days where the outline almost poured out of me. And then I had days where I would spend hours trying to think through potential titles and nothing would come. Or, worse the ideas would come and be so undeniably bad that I would insta-reject them. "How about--?" "Lame!"; "Or maybe--?" "Tacky!"; "Or what about--" "OMG time to shut the laptop. Just shut it."

The writing process was similar for me. For the first few months, I could not find a consistent time to write. Sometimes I wrote in the morning. Sometimes I rewrote what I wrote in the morning at night. I once wrote under the influence of mimosas, and those four paragraphs were actually fantastic (save for the British spelling--I have no idea why champagne would make me want to spell glamorous with an extra "u").

Then in the first three months of this year, I was able to write for hours upon hours at a time. I would wake up, have breakfast, and then start writing. And as I became eager to finish my first draft, I found myself waking up a half hour earlier each day (and then a half hour earlier).

Once I was accustomed to working for hours each day on my draft, I sent it to two brilliant friends who agreed to edit it for me. And then, I had six weeks of waiting. I don't remember praying for patience, but I had the opportunity to practice it. Of course the timing was completely reasonable and the edits were extensive and fabulous, but for me there was this question of how do you do you push your mind to think through your book every day and then ask it to think about something else for a bit?

I received their edits, and I incorporated them furiously. Now I have begun querying literary agents, and what I must do is wait. I must practice patience. Surely in the meantime, I can read so I can say I'm well read. I can devise and work on a new book to prove I have longevity. I can write articles and I can be a good wife and friend and person. But the thing is, this is my shot. That's not to say I don't believe there won't be others, but right now this is my time. If I hear back from a literary agent and he or she requests my manuscript that means--well honestly, then there will be more waiting. But then if I am lucky enough for someone to take me on--well then there will be more waiting, as we look for a publisher.

Sometimes I sit at my desk and look at local employment opportunities. I think maybe I should start thinking about my contingency now. But then I say to myself, there are only a few more months set aside in my year to make this happen. And making it happen isn't all about the writing, it's also about mastering the waiting. So I'll wait and hope that I am blessed with the opportunities to wait for an agent to read my manuscript, and then for a publisher to become interested, and then wait for a book deal, and then wait for sales and reviews. I'll pray for patience, because I hope I'll have the opportunity to practice it.