On Being Patient

  1. 1.
    the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.
    "you can find bargains if you have the patience to sift through the rubbish"

I've never been a particularly patient person.  

I like to be early to things and I pride myself on being organised.

That's why this part of my writing journey is particularly difficult.  Because sending my book out involves a whole lot of waiting.  

Waiting for things makes me anxious, and it makes me do things like check my email four or five (hundred) times a day.  

One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2015 was to Get Rejected and to be Be Okay with It.  In the past couple of years since I started writing seriously, I almost feel like I've had more story rejections than I've actually written stories. This has fed that niggling doubt in my mind that maybe I am not supposed to be a writer.  But writing is not being published.  Writing is writing.  And every time I've decided that it's time to hang up my pen, I've unmade that decision almost straight away.  Writing is who I am, and so long as I am writing, I am happy.  As Cyril Connolly said, 

It's better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
But being okay with rejection is easier said than done.

First of all, I'm trying to realise that a rejection of my words is not a rejection of me as a person.  And sometimes it's not even a judgement that I am a bad writer.  In fact, a lot of people have told me lately that I am a good writer and the word talented has been thrown around a little, which feels somewhat flattering.  Publishing things is as much about getting the right piece in front of the right person  at the right time as it is about that illusive thing called talent.  So the best thing to do is to push on, and work on improving my craft for my own sake.

Second of all, sometimes it's hard not to feel inadequate when people always misunderstand that published works do not a writer make.  I'm proud of the fact that I own up to being a writer.  It was something I made a conscious effort to do.  When people ask what I do, I don't say I'm a bookseller, or a I don't JUST say that.  I say I am a writer.  Unfortunately, a lot of people then follow up with the inevitable questions about where can they buy my books.  It's as if my book is not a real thing if people cannot buy it.

But those are my issues and I will deal with them.

Writing this post is a form of distracting myself, because right now I am in the process of waiting.

And I may just be waiting for more rejections, but at this high stakes, anxiety inducing level, I think I would be okay with that, because at least then I would know, and I would be able to move on to the next step.  It is easy for me to put in a short story and then forget about it... but my novel is different.  When I put my novel on the line, the wait is harder.

There are no hard and fast rules about how long agents and publishers will take to get back to me, but whatever happens I know it will be worth the wait.   If only I were capable of waiting patiently...


  1. I'm waiting with you, and we can hold each other's hand! Both of us, you and me, are good 'bouncers'—we bounce back after rejection, ready to go again. We know all the idioms and platitudes, and we know they're right—we're writers, and we're writing, which is what we want to do. One day, we'll make it inside the hallowed halls of publication, I'm sure of it. And, to cite another platitude, it's a journey, not a race, so we can take our time. Besides, we're improving all the time, and wouldn't you rather be published when you're *really* good, not just good.

  2. I so feel for you , Emily. Rejection sucks. No two ways about it. It really is horrible. But of course, and you know it well, you have to keep on going. The most you can do, is to try and keep your sanity. To quote from Betsy Lerner's book on writing The Forest for the Trees "The only place you're likely to find more alcoholics than an AA meeting is a writing program."
    You're a great writer, Emily. Hang in there, keep writing, keep reading. One day, you'll be a published author. And I'll leave you with another quote, "There is no way to be a writer and be comfortable." Eva Sallis. Marlish


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