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.

8 thoughts on “Patience Is a Necessity

  1. Hi Alan,
    I share your pain…I waited almost 22 months for my first book to come out after signing the contract. At the time, a publishing pro told me to enjoy it because there would never be a time like that again – you’re Soon to be Published! He was right – it’s the difference between being engaged and being an old married woman.
    The smart, patient STBP writer will use that time well (as you have) by networking and learning the ropes and picking the brains of those who’ve gone before you. Ideally you’ll also be writing the next book which you’ve done. So, congrats! Bask a little!

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  2. Alan, had I known more about the glacial speed of publishing, I might have started writing at a much younger age. Of course, back then, I had no desire to be a writer, so it probably wouldn’t have made a difference because I would never have been published.

    The hard part is figuring out what to do with all that waiting time. It’s tough to get motivated to write book 2 if you haven’t sold book 1, unless you’re writing stand alone unrelated books.

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  3. Rosemary – Thanks! I basked for about forty-five minutes last Thursday. That’s about all I can spare right now! Can’t wait to read Dead Head.

    Lelia – Thanks so much for having me! I always enjoy interacting with other bloggers’ readers. As for my TV appearance, there’s a reason I’m a writer, not a talker!

    Terry – I’m with you. I think if I’d started much earlier, I wouldn’t have had much to say. Yes, write stand-alones, or experiment in another genre.

    Barb – I was on Virginia This Morning in Richmond. No anchorpersons need to worry about their jobs on my account.

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  4. Alan, if you add in the time I spend procrastinating, I can’t get a book finished, from beginning to actual release, in less than four years.

    Looking forward to reading your novel. Hope you have a wonderful release day.

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  5. Jane – I think if we started earlier, it just would have taken longer. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    Patricia – If only we could make the powers of procrastination work FOR us! Thanks. I’m calendarically-challenged. My release date isn’t tomorrow, it’s the day after tomorrow. All month, I’ve been thinking March only has 30 days!

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