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  • Writer's pictureIan Brooks

The Wait


What’s the hardest thing about writing? Is generating an idea? Structuring a plot? Is it coming up with twists and turns and action-packed sequences? What about rewriting and editing? They seem particularly gruesome.

In truth, there is no easy part of writing. And if there are parts of the process that come to you with little effort then either you’re incredibly talented or you’re doing it wrong. And even though writing feels like a Sisyphean task where you can never quite get that boulder to the top of the hill, the most difficult part comes AFTER writing. It comes after the submission materials. It comes after the cover letter and the synopsis.

It's The Wait.

The Wait is soul destroying. The Wait is anxiety-inducing. The Wait is No Man’s Land. The place where you are completely vulnerable and naked. Your head is on the chopping block. You’re just waiting for that guillotine to fall. Or, by some miracle, will the blade get stuck and you are granted a reprieve.

My favourite part of writing is rewriting and editing. Call me a weirdo, I know. It’s not the part writers usually choose. But I love moving bits of my work around to make it sound better. I love trying to come up with new ways to tell a joke or increase tension. I love having my rough work on a page and improving it.

But what this all means is that I am at my most dynamic just before I submit. It’s full steam ahead. My opening chapters have been polished. I craft a synopsis and a cover letter. I’ve researched agents, picked out the ones who suit my genre and submit to them.

BANG! Everything just stops.

It’s like you’ve run straight into a brick wall. You can no longer be dynamic. You can no longer move ahead. You’re just stuck. Your little baby that you have spent years crafting and nurturing is now sitting in someone’s inbox among hundreds of other lost souls, just waiting for judgment. It sounds a little barbaric when thought of like that.

It’s been ten days since I sent out my first submissions. Agents usually say it will take them around 8 weeks to provide a response, good or bad. This can vary wildly though. Sometimes you get responses in less than a week, other times something might drip through your inbox 7 or 8 months later. One time I actually received a rejection in under an hour. But as of yet, no news. And I wish I could say no news is good news but unfortunately no news is exactly what it is. No news.

The Wait is long. The Wait is dark. The Wait is full of terrors. It plays with your mind. Is my work good enough? Should I have changed this bit? Made this funnier? Made this shorter? What about the use of the word on page 51, paragraph 3? Does it fit?

And these are the easy thoughts to deal with. Then comes the avalanche of self-doubt. Am I good enough? Is this the right thing for me to do? Have all these years of work and effort been a waste? Am I just not cut out for it? After all, I just read another book and it was nothing like what I wrote so how can I ever get an agent or get published.

These are the insidious thoughts that corrupt the mind during The Wait. What else are you supposed to do during this time? The Wait is filled with possibilities but it’s also a petri dish for self-reflection and negative thoughts.

And yet, somehow you manage to reconcile your dreams and desires with your negative self-talk. I believe I’m good enough, I believe my book is something that people will want to read and enjoy. And if it’s not? It’s not the end of the world. I’ll simply get back up on that horse and try again. Try and try until I make it.

The Wait torments me. It bends me. But it will not break me.

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