Patience Is a Necessity

Alan Orloff’s debut mystery, Diamonds for the Dead, will be released TOMORROW by Midnight Ink. The first in his new series, Killer Routine – A Last Laff Mystery, featuring Channing Hayes, a stand-up comic with a tragic past, will be out Spring 2011 (also from Midnight Ink). For more info, visit  http://www.alanorloff.com

When it comes to writing, plot is important. Pacing is important. Character development is important. Grammar, setting, punctuation, rhythm—they’re all important too. But in my journey to get a novel published, I discovered that mastering another, often-overlooked, skill will serve you well.

I’m talking about patience.

Back when I was taking writing workshops, none of the instructors mentioned waiting. Sure, I’d hear a whispered curse now and then from other writers about having to wait for someone to give a piece “a read.” At the time, I attributed that angst to just some nervous nellies. Little did I know the breadth and depth of the waiting game.

It wasn’t long until I learned. I’d submit pages to a critique group and (gasp!) they’d take days or even weeks to read and provide feedback. Sometimes the weeks would melt into a month. Whatever happened to overnight delivery?

Then, when querying time came around, the waiting periods seemed to mushroom exponentially. The agent response time “units of measure” shifted from weeks to months (that’s months, plural!). The de facto period to wait before sending a “status” query was said to be three months. And, horrors, sometimes I’d never hear back. Talk about exercising infinite patience!

I was fortunate enough to snag an agent. Did the waiting stop? Of course not! I had to wait yet again when my manuscript went on submission to publishing houses. More months of sitting around in limbo. Many more months.

And, if the dice still keep rolling your way, there’s more waiting after you sign a contract. I signed the contract for Diamonds for the Dead in February 2009. It will be released tomorrow. If you do the math, that’s fourteen more months of waiting. (And, I’ve learned, that’s not on the “long” end of things—many books take longer to go from contract to release!)

If you need instant gratification, don’t become a writer.

But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.