Thursday, July 26, 2012

What to Do When You're Waiting

If you've been around the publishing business for more than 5 minutes, you know a couple of things:
(1) it's about half work and half waiting and (2) publishing has its own time dimension. A slow....motion....thenquickmotionrightnow dimension, with its own rules.

It's no one's fault--it's just the nature of the beast. Publishing is an extremely collaborative process, so EVERYBODY has to wait for other people at some point. Agents wait. Editors wait. Sales, Marketing, Design...all of us. And, of course, writers. We often wait for long stretches, hope soaring, doubt clinging stubbornly to its tail. You don't have to enjoy it, but you do have to get used to it.

But there are Things that you can do--and that you shouldn't do. I've listed a few ideas, but please feel free to chime in with more!


1. Work.
No matter how this process goes, no matter who you're waiting on, this truth is always the same: you're going to need a next book. Maybe not the sequel of the book you've got out there, but something. New, different. Something that excites you. Something to remind yourself that as a writer, you WRITE. And you're learning things every day about craft, about people, about characters and plots and the world around it's very likely this new book will be even BETTER than the last one. Make it so to the best of your ability. Work like nothing else is going on, like it's your first try. Always, always, keep working.

2. Read.
You write because you love reading, right? Right? See what your colleagues are doing, the books that made it onto the shelf or the Kindle/Nook/thingum. Read great books, entertaining books, bad books. Read all those books by your friends that have piled up, and books you've stumbled across. Read in your genre and outside of it. Read. Pay attention. Absorb. (Enjoy.)

3. Look around you.
Oh my gosh, did you know it's summer? A lot of people are outside doing things under that yellow blazing ball. Try it, instead of chaining yourself to your email refresh button. Go for a walk, a drive, a swim. Hang out at a cafe without your nose being stuck in a computer, and watch people. If you don't get out and watch/interact with people, you won't keep learning, and your books won't get better. Maybe even play. If you have family, do something with them! (gasp)

4. Be bad.
This just means let yourself do stuff you normally wouldn't moderation. Watch reality TV marathons, or go get ice cream, or play video games all night. You're under a lot of stress. It's okay to relax and treat yourself sometimes, and this is one of those times.

5. Remember that it really won't be forever.
Even when it feels like it. Also, good things take a while and are worth the effort AND the wait.


1. Don't harass people.
Just don't. Whether it's agents you've queried, or your agent, or editors or whoever, leave them alone. Let them do their business. They are NOT focused on you--your manuscript is a very small part of their very busy lives. Wait in line like everyone else, with grace.
(I interrupt this post to note that one of my BIGGEST pet peeves is line-jumpers, in any form. Hate it. It is so rude and disrespectful. I think it's my British ancestry.)
Note: It is TOTALLY OKAY to harass your writing friends a little bit during this waiting time. They get it, and they have either been through it themselves or they will. Just remember to be patient when it's their turn to harass you.
Second Note: It is always okay to ask respectful questions too, especially of your agent. Absolutely. Just don't go over the line to harass. You can feel where that line is. You know. Be professional.

2. Don't whine about waiting.
You know how I said above that we all have to wait? It's true. It's not going to endear you to anyone--or make them want to work with you--if you're the only one out there whining about it. Be a grown-up and be patient. Be positive, at least in public.
 (It is still TOTALLY OKAY to whine to your friends. That is part of the reason they are there.)

3. Don't give up.
I mean it. Don't. Give. Up. You will never ever ever make your dreams if you give up. (and this is from someone who didn't stick.) If you keep a good attitude, are professional, keep working and improving your writing, and ARE PATIENT, you'll do it, whatever your goal is.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Folk Festival Weekend!

This past weekend was our 5th Folk Festival here in town, and it's still a wonderful event. We have such a good time! The three of us wandered all over listening to live music from different countries, lying in the sun (and ducking the massive thunderstorms, but we lived), eating good fair food, and rocking out. We saw musicians from:
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Puerto Rico
  • Dominican Republic
  • Congo
  • Iran
  • Azerbaijan
  • Japan
  • Sweden
  • Nova Scotia
plus Hawaii, New Orleans, Texas blues, rockabilly...honestly. They were ALL amazing.

Here's just a tiny sample of one of the best acts we saw. If you ever get a chance to see live Japanese Taiko drumming, DO. They had the whole tent standing, cheering, and clapping as best we could in time.

Friday, July 06, 2012

The woo-woo story of how I met my husband

The year I met my husband didn't start out so well.

I'd been having a rough time. I'd graduated with an English degree (with honors!), but there was a nasty recession and nobody was hiring people with newly minted English degrees, honors or no. I scrambled for a job, any job. I remember offering to work unpaid for the local newspaper for a while, just so they'd give me a chance. No dice. Finally a friend hooked me up as a clerk for a major bookstore chain in San Diego, and we roomed together (with others) to save money.

That worked, for a while. But I...fell in with some people. Started smoking. Started drinking Scotch, pretending to be tough. I thought I was in love with my boss, who was cute in a ne'er-do-well sort of way, but was already living with one woman and constant-flirting with another.

I was miserable.

On New Year's Eve, I broke. One of my friends from college had come down to visit, and I'd been hoping Bad Boy from work would show up to our party, but he didn't. I lost it--got waaaay too drunk, cried a lot, got sick a lot. Poor friend from college.

The next morning, in my hungover, regretful haze, I grabbed my calendar for the new year. I flipped open to a random page, stuck my finger on a random day, and wrote:

I will change my life by this day.

March 26th. I forgot about it, later. Drifted through the days doing what I was doing, being largely unhappy. Got promoted to Manager Trainee, started traveling to stores around the district, covering where they needed it.

On one of these trips I met a super-hot Assistant Manager. He was funny too, and smart. The next day he called me to ask a question, and we talked for 5 hours. He asked me out--we had a disastrous, yet perfect, first date that's another story. Three months later we moved in together. On Christmas morning that year he asked me to marry him, and I squealed in happiness. There was no question. There was no stupid Scotch-drinking, and we quit smoking together (and ate pounds of chocolate cake in the process). We traveled all over California, we got better jobs. We were together, from then on.

It was only later, the next year, when I flipped through the pages of that calendar and realized it.

I'd met him on March 26th. That very day. And it changed my life.

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband, who gets me in every way. These 16 years have treated us pretty well, together, and I wouldn't change a thing.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

This week so far in pictures

Sometimes the word part of my brain gets a little overworked, and I revert to pictures to express what's going on. So far, this is the week in pictures:

This is where we fish, and where we spent all day Sunday. Aaaaah. (Plus, there's nothing quite like the feeling of pulling in a fat brook trout!)

This is me trying to figure out what happens next in T2. I hit 50k on Sunday, which means this draft is getting close to the end, and requires some heavy plot-thinking...(also, this is actually from Blue's Clues, which Child was addicted to when she was small. We did many Blues Clues hunts in our house)

I got Trish's book in the mail yesterday!! Woot!!

I am doing my very best not to do this, in spite of a  whole bunch of life changes going on right now. Mostly good, just change-y!

And last, this is (roughly) what I'm going to see tonight! By long tradition we do fireworks, our own and the town's, on the 3rd here. Tomorrow is for sleeping in and the parade!

What are you up to this week? Are you on vacation like EVERYONE ELSE IN MY OFFICE?