January 24, 2011

Writing Like Crazy: The Waiting Game

Last week, I received the final draft of my winning flash fiction piece, "Staving off the Thaw." My last chance to go through it and give my stamp of approval before the anthology is finally sent to print. I pored over it one evening, then gave the big thumbs up. Seasons in the Abyss is making headway, and should be available for purchase through Blood Bound Books on Februrary 1st. But, man, the waiting is always a killer. I'm also standing by for the final edits on a couple of short stories.

"Patience is a virtue": That mantra was drilled into me at a very early age, but I've never really taken to it so much, as I've simply tolerated the reality of it.

The writing life is one with a hurry-up-and-wait mentality at times. It takes time to write a story. It takes time to submit a story. It takes time for those accepted stories to be published. And the only way to not drive yourself crazy is to move onto the next one.

I've got about a dozen stories out there in the ether right now, waiting months for a thumbs up or a thumbs down. And waiting months for a rejection is a heartbreaker, not matter how well you keep it out of mind. Granted, the long awaited acceptances are always great, but that uniform rejection popping up in my inbox always comes with the jingle from The Price Is Right when the contestant goes over the suggested retail price. But that's the Waiting Game, ain't it?

The ability to wait is necessary when writing too, I've found. Yes, always write. But it takes time for those words to gel, draft after draft. I've tried fixing my stories on the fly, essentially reworking that first draft as I go until it is just right. But that is an exercise in aggravation. I find, despite the despondency that sometimes comes from writing a terrible first draft, I just have to wait until I can dive into the second and third before I find the heart of the story.

I'm reworking a short story right now. It's one that kind of fell apart on me. But I stewed on it, and I think I've finally figured out the tone I want for it--and the ending. The hardest part of that process was the waiting.

How do you handle the Waiting Game?


  1. Unless I send a story to somewhere like Clarkesworld or Fantasy Magazine who reply uber-fast, I don't tend to wait. I mean, I'm waiting but I put the story to the back of my mind until I get a reply.

  2. That's what I try to do, but after so long, when I suspect enough time has elapsed for a thumbs up or down, I am scanning that inbox almost daily.

  3. I know what you mean. I haven't written as much short fiction in the last few years as I used to, as I've primarily turned my focus more onto novels and scripts. But as frustrating as the delays can be at times, I always found that the excitement to start new stories and 'get them out there' kept that cycle going. As frustrating as rejections can be, it's still exciting to look for responses.

    I try to write the short stuff still, but usually for an anthology, not just to cycle it out there - and I should get back into it more, but there are only so many hours in a day and the longer stuff takes my concentration.

    When I first started writing years ago, electronic submissions and responses weren't done yet. You needed the infamous SASE, and you'd trek to the mail box daily, looking for the famliar white envelope with your postage stamp and address on it. I can always recall the anticipation with them; trying to feel the thickness of the envelope to wonder if it contained an acceptance (which usually had a contract in it) versus a thinner envelope that almost always had a rejection in the form of a quick note, a generic slip of paper, etc.

    Congrats on the antho sale! More will come. You know it, like any other writer - as much as the waits can seem tedious, imagine not writing at all and having nothing come in for responses? Arrghh! That's a terrifying thought. Just keep tickling those keyboard keys : )

  4. Good point, Carol. I need to get my butt in gear with the longer fiction. Been humming and hawing this year.