Hurry, Wait, Hurry, Wait

It’s Monday, and I just realized I forgot to charge my goddamn iPod. As irksome as this is, it won’t drag me away from the topic I wanted to blog about today.  Why?  Because I care, that’s fucking why (the word “fucking” brought to you by irksome iPod situation).

I’ve been publishing prose for six years now.  A lot of that early stuff is pretty rough, but that’s the nature of the game.  We can’t all start out awesome like Laird Barron or Sarah Langan, probably because those two are fucking amazing.  All that is neither here not there, though.  I state it simply to give you some idea of how long I’ve been taking this seriously (hint: six years plus a couple extra) and to clue you in to how little I’ve learned about patience.

See, it’s no secret that a lot of the publishing game is based on a hurry up and wait dynamic.  You crank out a story, invest all kinds of time madly rewriting and polishing, making it shine, and then you send it off and wait a few months to hear anything back.  It’s not a perfect scenario, but it’s the one we have, and I don’t mind it.  No, all the problems I have are on my end.

I’ve said before that I’m a hungry writer.  Every day I’m alive, every word I write, I’m constantly trying to improve both my writing and its visibility.  Now, the key to improving is patience.  If I just burn through my word count every day, I’m more a typist than a writer.  The key is to slow down and really think about the writing, really get into it and work to improve.  That’s why I’m currently re-writing a novel from page one for the third time.

But then there’s the antsy side of my personality, and it’s a huge side.  Its the side that smacks me around every few weeks and tells me I’m not working hard enough.  It keeps me awake at night, running to my writing room to scribble notes for the next day.  It  wakes me up at two in the morning, hungry to get started on the day’s writing, and it drives me crazy by telling me I’m not trying hard enough and that I’ll never amount to anything because of that.  It tells me I’m not doing the right things, and I’m not doing them fast enough.  It wants that book deal NOW.  It does things like writing a novelization of A Trip to Rundberg in under two weeks because a respected press is actively looking for zombie books.

Let’s face facts… that side of my brain is pretty goddamn crazy.

So I find myself constantly walking a tightrope between hurrying and waiting, trying like hell not to fall to one side or the other.  It’s hard.  Sometimes it’s damn near impossible.  It’s the right thing to do, though.  Giving in to the hurry will only make me a hack, and giving in to the wait will only make me lazy.

So it’s forward.  Straight line.  Don’t fall.

Hurry. Wait.

2 thoughts on “Hurry, Wait, Hurry, Wait

  1. Thanks for the great post and the great advice. Mental dichotomies are really handy for managing stressors. Sucks the publishing industry is like that. I keep waiting for someone else to come along and do it better and force the big houses to change things up a bit. But whatever, I’m content enough with the way things are.

  2. I often forget I’m not the only one who feels this way. For me, it’s the constant push and pull between: “This is ridiculous. A writing career can’t possibly be worth this much effort. I should quit now before I drive myself and my wife insane.”

    And then there’s the absolute joy of writing ITSELF, when I sink into my own little world and the only thing that matters are the words on the page and the characters they create, and I wish I could just be content with that. Savor that joy. Enjoy the writing itself, but I can’t. I just want more, it never seems enough, with loops me right back to: “This is crazy; it’s killing me, I should just quit.”

    Thanks for this.

Comments are closed.