Sunday, June 28, 2009

Patience is a...

Last night someone in my writers group said something that has plunged me into thought. I won't get it word for word, and the meaning could be taken in more than one way, but it was something like "You haven't done this long enough to have the patience to stick a manuscript in a drawer for five years, twelve years or twenty years. Everything happened so fast for you."

Like I said, this could be read in more than one way. First I'm thinking- Holy cow. 20 years. I'll be like an old lady or something by then. I probably wouldn't even care about the story after that long.

And then I thought- I know it does help to set writing aside before revision. Not necessarily for years, if you happen to be me, but I get the value of leaving something alone for a while to let your brain process.

But finally it came down to this. I am incredibly impatient. Always have been. You could say it nicer so it sounded noble, such as... I'm driven, persistent, stubborn, determined and passionate. It does sound a lot better than impatient, but in the end, they probably are kind of the same.

In my head, I have some goals. Some are goals that I have complete control over, like finishing a manuscript or revising one. And others are at the subjective hands of others, like finding an agent or somehow breaking into a big New York publishing house, or, my personal favorite, selling tons and tons and tons of books.

Even the goals that depend on others have a side that I can be involved in. I can't get an agent if I'm not looking for one. So I sent 40 queries out just to prove that you really can be rejected 37 times. (Actually, I haven't even tried to keep track of how many rejections I've gotten. I don't really care.)

If I want to get to NY, I need to either write the perfect story for the perfect editor in enough time that the stars line up and everything works, or get an agent. See above paragraph.

Sell tons and tons of books. Book signings, hopefully school visits will work out once school starts- hard to tell in the middle of summer.

Have patience. I know. The evil villain of no power.

On a different note- cool stuff at the last book signing. A girl who works as a library aid in her high school was practically beaming when her mom bought her my book. She couldn't stop smiling. She told me about her bookshelf of hundreds of books. All of her money goes to books. When her friends go shopping, she doesn't spend her money with them, she waits to go to a bookstore. If all the world could be a little more like her.

A fifteen year old boy stopped at my table and asked me to tell him about the book. I start with the standard one sentence answer. Vague, but general idea. "Can you tell me any more?" He looked at me. I start telling the story through the first chapter and ask if he wants to know more.

His eyes nearly pop out of his head as a light dawns. "Oh my gosh, you're the author, aren't you?"

He thought I was just someone sitting there trying to sell the book. Probably hadn't even read it myself.

Happy to say that the boy went home with his own copy, and that I was the first author he had met where he thought he might actually like the story.

Sell tons and tons of books. I don't know how, but I do know that Owen's eyes and Alajandra's happiness was more than I could ask for. I didn't know writing a story could take me into people's hearts. Into their lives. That through a book, I can become part of who they are. Sure, I'd love to sell a million. I still hope I do. But who can put a price on moments when you know you will never be the same again? That's why I write.


L.T. Elliot said...

I feel that same way. (Although I probably don't make it through the doubt bit as graciously as you do.) Patience has been an elusive virtue for me. Heaven knows if I'll ever find it. I'm just hoping that "impatience" will serve me well later on.

L.T. Elliot said...

BTW, I just wanted to say that the story about the two kids that bought your book, it's just what I've been waiting for. Thank you for sharing that little glimpse into your heart.