If You Don't Have Patience
Patience is a necessity in this business. It’s a lesson that has been drilled into me repeatedly—even if I continue to chaff under that necessity.
I trained in the newspaper business where instant gratification is the norm for the writer. Each afternoon, we had story deadlines and our articles appeared in the next day’s newspaper. Some times the stories were held over until the following day—but they appeared in print and were read right away.
The magazine business takes longer with three to four months of typical lead time for many magazines. Other publications take even longer before they appear in print. Last fall during a writer’s conference I had a face to face meeting with a magazine editor. Several of us on the faculty slipped away one evening and grabbed supper in town at a restaurant. We told each other stories about the publishing business and enjoyed getting acquainted.
Several years ago, I had ghostwritten an article for this publication when I worked at another company (and the “author” got paid for my work—which was fine back then because I was eager to promote the topic). I’ve never had my by-line appear in this particular publication with a large circulation. In rare emails since our meeting, I have been offering to write for this magazine. Late yesterday, I received a specific assignment from the editor. See what I mean about the need for patience?
In my fiction acquisitions editor role, I’ve been working on contracting one of the novels since last summer. In mid-October, the publication board voted to accept the novel and yesterday I received the go-ahead from the literary agent to issue the contract. This particular arrangement is still in motion. The deal will not be finalized until the author and the publisher sign the agreement. At this point, both parties have agreed to the general terms. The scheduled publication date for this completed novel is Spring 2007. It seems like a long-time—even to the author and agent—but it’s one of the realities of book publishing. Patience is required for novelists as well as nonfiction authors.
For me, the writing life reminds me of the regular act on the old Ed Sullivan Show. A man would walk out on the stage with some china plates and tall sticks. He would begin with one plate, then slowly add a series of spinning plates. When one plate began to fall, he quickly gave it another spin. If you need a reminder of the act, check out this link. It will take you to a real 4 1/2 minute show.
Patience is a necessary part of the writing life. If you don’t have it and want to be published, then you will learn to get it.