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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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So Tired, Tired of Waiting, Tired of Waiting For You

We’ve all been there, waiting for someone to read our work. A friend, a classmate, a teacher, a producer, an editor, an agent, a critic. The worst part, possibly worse than the verdict, is not knowing when it will arrive. A day, a week , a month, longer, like never. How well do you cope with waiting? I know I sometimes like to delay gratification, or stave off rejection with a healthy dose of denial and magical thinking (i.e. no news is good news, or at least not bad news yet.) I know a lot of my readers here on the blog drink (I’m not judging). One writer offered the following rant, which I reproduce here anonymously in all its beautiful despair:

“Waiting is to publishing like foreplay is to porn: a necessary interval which precedes the money shot. As in porn, it’s usually glossed over—for everyone, that is, but the author, who, as far as waiting goes, is pretty singularly hung out to dry. The agent? She has another twenty or thirty people to care about, and she already suffers from compassion-fatigue as it is. The editor? From a scheduling point of view he or she is usually on some corporate version of life-support, too overtaxed, overworked and overextended to think straight. It’s the author, that fragile reed, who passes his days eating his nails to the quick, aggressively advancing the onset of happy hour, and fighting recreationally with his wife and kids while he waits and waits for the dime to drop.

First, he waits for years to write the damn book. Then he waits for the response to his manuscript. Then he waits for the editor to gather support if he likes it, and for another editor at another house to give judgement if he doesn’t. Then if he’s lucky enough to have a book taken, he waits a year for it to be published. Then he waits for months for the reviews. During this time, he suddenly remembers the Monty Python skit about the father who found his son so boring he began to pretend he was French, and he wonders if he could pretend to be someone else to get away from it all. In the meantime, waiting, he grows old. He wears his trousers rolled.”

How do you fare?

17 Responses

  1. I keep writing and try not to give a shit. This is yet another reason to ignore all the clownholes who says that writers must invest half their time in self-promotion.

    Writing’s the only thing I’m even halfway good at. So I write and I keep writing. I’ve got two agents, one for YA and one for adult stuff. I’ve got two contracts and one spec manuscript and one spec screenplay and proposal that’s -this- close to selling: wish me luck.

    I guess I disagree with your correspondent’s analogy. Actually, writing is to publishing as masturbation is to fucking. You can do it alone and have a pretty great time.

  2. I don’t find waiting any more painful than other steps of the writing/publishing process. But it’s a relative comparison, given that the other elements include rejection and red ink and bad reviews. Fortunately, writers tend to be a masochistic lot.

  3. I don’t think the waiting for responses is nearly as bad as the waiting for the words to come. When I’m trying to write, just to churn out that first draft, and I hit a sticky spot I want to tear my hair out. Waiting for that sparkle of inspiration is excruciating. But once I’m done and the manuscript has been sent off there’s peace for me. I pick up all the books I’ve been putting off reading, I write non-query emails, I throw parties and go shopping and give myself a haircut.

    Basically I turn it into relaxation. Because life is way too short to spend time waiting around

  4. Day 1: Excited and optimistic, wait by phone, check email before bed

    Day 2: Nervous but optimistic, place phone by computer, check email every hour

    Day 3: Nervous, forward all calls and email by SMS to cell phone, take cell phone into shower and to bed

    Day 7: Hide the razor blades and sharp objects; fend off the yellow tooth monster that lives in my medicine cabinet

    Day 14: Look for the razor blades

    Day 30: Work through the tenth case of scotch

    Day 60: Find razor blades and place in pile with empty scotch bottles

    Day 90: Found living naked in the woods behind the 7/11

  5. Waiting is the worst thing in the world. I try to distract myself but the longer it takes the worse it feels. I love the writer’s despair above, it’s just so true.

  6. What are we waiting for, exactly?

    Fame? There are easier ways to achieve this; many of them considerably less painful.

    Money? Writing is about the least financially rewarding undertaking there is. Supersizing has a higher hourly rate of return.

    Adoration? Better off to get a dog.

    But we keep waiting and dreaming anyway.We are victims of hope.

  7. Waiting is to publishing as dating in your 30s in Manhattan is to marriage: The crushing weight of all those odds against you, the appalling competition from the lesser talented but more beautiful/connected/trashy, the never-ending sense of insignificance in a very very crowded marketplace, the growing need for approval from people you don’t even like, the emotional desperation for a single validating word, the spiritual compromises,all those hopes crushed by all those guys who say they’ll call but never do, the inexhaustable number of people with the power to reject you…

    If we didn’t HAVE to do it, nobody in their right mind would bother. Dating or writing books.

    I’ve been wondering about this lately: it seems that fiction writers are the most traumatised by the publishing industry, compared to memoirists, biographers, travel writers or historians. — is that true? Because non-fiction is a cosier world for both agents and editors and they treat non-fiction writers nicer? Or is there something peculiar about people who write fiction that makes them a little nutty (anxious,depressive) in the first place?

    • I also found this editor/agent interaction to be a lot like dating. Except when things went bad, all I could do was just send a “thank you” note for having someone consider my manuscript then blowing me off. I guess I’m fine for a few chapters but overall I’m just not that good in literary bed:) And I don’t even get the satisfaction of calling these people up and telling them off as I would any date who treated thus.

      Honestly, I don’t mean this as a blanket statement for all the editors and agents who have had the misfortune to sleep with my manuscript. Some have been very professional and courteous.

      I’m considering literary spinsterhood. According to research, spinsters live longer. Literary children take years off your life,

  8. At least with porn, you know there will be a money shot – sigh.

  9. I actually blogged about this a few days ago:

    http://philangelus.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/writing-submitting-waiting/

    In one sentence: when I get nervous waiting, I find a magazine or anthology market and write something small for that.

    The result is that by the time the thing I’m waiting for comes back, I’ve almost forgotten about it because of all the other things I’ve turned out in the meantime.

  10. I just started a new round of waiting last week when my agent submitted my manuscript. So far I’ve been a bit distracted but have managed to continue writing, although I think I’m spending a bit more time on blogs. Yes, I’ve heard it can take a long time. I guess I’ll wait and see.

  11. I don’t fare well with waiting. I’m learning to be more patient, though, through this process of trying to find an agent. I hope it’s teaching me a lesson and that I’ll be rewarded in the end. But as someone above in the comments said, at least in porn you know there will be a money shot. What I have now is more like a crap shoot.

  12. Yes, it’s best to keep writing. I just received notice that one of my short stories will be published in the new print literary journal The Best of Our Stories….cheer, cheer. Now back to my email and back to the new story I’m writing.

  13. I 100% agree with you this is how I feel. 2 month s and 10 days now…

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