Friday, September 17, 2010

The Professional Waiting Society

In the course of your career as a writer you will need to perfect one key skill. No, not editing. No, not first drafting. No, not gracefully moving on from rejection.

WAITING.

Yes. You, my friends, will need to become Professional Waiters. (Not the kind that get paid and earn tips. That would be counterproductive and goes against the very nature of Professional Waiters--we don't get paid for what we do! We do it out of love!) Here are the top six skill sets you need to practice at home to hone your talent as a Professional Waiter, conveniently organized in an easy-to-remember acronym:

O.B.S.E.S.S.

Optimism
That [query/beta response/full response/sub response/etc] you're waiting to hear about? It could show up in your inbox at ANY TIME. Start wrist exercises now to build up the strength and toning you'll need to constantly click "refresh" on your email inbox, because ANY SECOND NOW IT WILL HAPPEN! And the more you check, the sooner it will come!

Busyness
This is to be avoided at all costs. Don't worry about accomplishing anything. Cleaning, working on that next project, catching up on all of the things you left undone to get to this point? They, too, can wait! Your sole focus right now should be to O.B.S.E.S.S. If you're getting other things done, you aren't devoting enough time to waiting. Keep yourself busy with waiting!

Social Activities
Nothing is going to be accomplished by getting out in the sunshine and spending time doing things you enjoy with people you love. You should make it a goal never to leave the house during business hours--after all, the second you step outside is probably the second [potential agent/future editor/etc] will call! Don't risk missing it! You probably don't want to go out in the evenings or on weekends, either, just to be safe. Think of all of the email refreshes you'd be skipping!

Endurance
Professional waiting is not for the faint of heart. You are in this for the long haul. You will do nothing but wait--WAIT, WAIT, WAIT--with no forward momentum whatsoever. You are anchored firmly in the past: what you have already done and are waiting for. You can imagine the future fruits of your waiting, but you endure the waiting without working toward anything new. We are waiters, not movers or creators.

Self-awareness
One of the key parts of being a Professional Waiter is to focus all your efforts--nay, all your very thoughts--on things that are beyond your control. We don't wait for things that we can affect or change or make happen. We put our [queries/books/etc] out there where they are out of our hands, and then we wait for other people to make things happen. There's no point in focusing on something you have control over! Where's the fun in that?

Sanity
This is to be avoided at all costs. Sure, it doesn't make sense for you to sit around checking your email over and over and over again, and on some level we know that it won't actually make a difference how often we check, and that there's nothing magical about [insert your lucky day of the month/time of day/shirt/necklace/song/stick of chewing gum here], but Professional Waiters throw logic and sense out the window. We don't believe in sanity.

If we did, we wouldn't be writers now, would we?

So, my brothers and sisters of the Professional Waiting Society, what are you waiting for? And how are you developing your O.B.S.E.S.S. skills to be the best waiter you can be?

31 comments:

Rick Daley said...

I O.B.S.E.S.S by...hold on, there's a new email in my inbox, I have to check and see if it's an offer on my book.

DLCurran said...

Funny... and true. Especially the 'refresh' button... because you never know when something's going to come in!

Becky Wallace said...

I'm awesome at OBSESS-ing. But I have one huge, gi-largo, problem. I can't OBSESS without food. Then I go from OBSESS, to OBESE.

When it's all over with (and let's be honest it's never OVER), I have something completely new to OBSESS about...my BIG FAT THIGHS and how my pants whisk, whisk, whisk, as I walk.

I'm going whisk myself out of the kitchen (aka my writing area), away from the food and my email account now.

Good luck to all you who are OBSESS-ing today! Try doing it sans food.

Chersti Nieveen said...

This was such a perfect post, because I'm in the middle of querying right now and can completely relate. Sometimes it seems all I do is wait. So THANK YOU for the tips on waiting, because that will definitely help things. Actually, it's quite funny because your last few posts have related to my exact problem of the day, and were exactly what I needed to hear. So basically I think you're amazing, with the possibility of reading my mind. Not that my mind is all too exciting, what with the nervous waiting going on. lol. But it must be the name thing ;-)

Becky Wallace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenilyn Tolley said...

Sorry. I'm too busy obsessing right now to think of a comment. You just have to wait for it.

Tessa Conte said...

LOL let's see...

Lurking around my mailbox? Check.

Dustbunnies multiplying under the sofa? Check.

Dogs really really desperate for walkies rather than back yard? Check.

The above going on for a long time now? Check.

Waiting for responses from unresponding people? Check.

Doing said things whilst listening to a whole army of people arguing about plotlines at the back of my head? Check.

I think I'm doing quite well so far... Professional Waiting, here I come!

Tere Kirkland said...

*snarfle*

I'm definitely avoiding sanity at all costs, thanks for the warning!

Wendy Delfosse said...

Haha! Thanks for the laugh, Kiersten. My refresh finger is plenty strong already. :-)

Jessica said...

You are so cute!
I am a pro at being a professional waiter. (Was that redundant at all?) Obsessing is what I do best. Why else would I have decided to send off my manuscript?!
I love your posts, Kiersten. You crack me up. :) Keep up the good work!
Put it on Paper

Theresa Milstein said...

Sounds like you interviewed me about my waiting habits. I'm great at the rules of OBSESS. How can I do other things when I'm constantly refreshing my Inbox button and gazing out the window for sign of the letter carrier?

Brodi Ashton said...

I just hit 1500 winds in iPhone solitaire. That's how I handle waiting!

Funny I blogged about this exact thing today. Can you add an extra "S" for Solitaire?

Great post!

Kiersten White said...

Brodi, you can substitute one of the S's for Solitaire, and I will substitute the B for Bejeweled Blitz.

Sara B. Larson said...

Ha ha ha, this post is so funny because it's so true! Except, I don't have to refresh, because gmail automatically does it for me. So I just get to sit and stare at it. Way better than hitting a refresh button. Then I can hone my self-awareness and busyness abilities. Yes!

VICTORIA SAAVEDRA said...

You speak the truth!

Emilia Plater said...

This is PARFAIT! Ditto what Sara said about Gmail automatically refreshing. It makes not doing anything so much easier. I --

OMG MAIL NUMBER WENT UP
oh, a letter from my local JCPenney, of coooourse!

-- what was I saying? Yeah, perfect. :D

Michelle said...

I've got an obsession to add! I put a tracking number on my snail-mail (full) submission. So, every day that the tracking number isn't in USPS, I celebrate.

Writing-wise, there's a great post by Hannah Moskowitz about the thematic differences between young adult and middle-grade books. I've linked to it from my blog, michellesvann.blogspot.com

Of course, Paranormalcy covers both genres! Love it!

Mandy said...

I sent my query out TWO WEEKS AGO! Surely it can't take that long? *feverishlly refreshes button. Promptly gains headache from so much staring at computer screen*
But wait... what if they HATED it? Maybe it's not half as good as I thought. Maybe I shoulld forget that idea and try to find another one. Or just reise the MS for the tenth time today. Ten times isn't enough, is it? It's too little, I know it!... But, wait, there's a new e-mail in my inbox...

I think my friends and family will be highly pleased once this O.B.S.E.S.S part is fianlly over. I have a feeling they rather liked me when I locked myself in my room and refused to leave because I was writing much more than they do now.

Abby Minard said...

Love it! I know I will constantly be staring at my gmail inbox once I send out query letters! My house is already a mess, so I've got the not-cleaning thing down pretty good already.

Steena Holmes said...

Omg - I swear I've gained weight from all the baking I've done as I've patiently waited for the partials and fulls to come back to me. What is taking them so long??? They were fast on the uptake with the query ;) My family and neighbours are asking me to stop the chocolate madness ... but until I get that email ... I can't!

Allie Sanders said...

You know, if someone didn't know how sarcastic you are on your blog this could be a very, very scary post. I don't know how many times I have followed author suggestions in my writing for one reason or another (not all of them, mind you. Just the ones I believed in) and this is such a scary proccess as it is you could have just created dozens of O.B.S.E.S.S.-ed people. Okay, I will admit when I was shopping out my first MS that I spent a rediculous amount of time checking my e-mail, going so far as to steal my husband's phone to check it on the go. Wait, nevermind, you don't have to create the O.B.S.E.S.S.-ed people, we already exist. Crap. I'm O.B.S.E.S.S.-ed!

Ebony McKenna. said...

Fantastic!
I know I'm a real writer because I'm utterly hooked on facebook games. I could procrastinate for my country at the next Olympics.

I could get back to writing, or . . .

Rachel said...

Well looky there--I've already perfected that skill. Gosh darnit, I must be a professional writer already!

Thanks for the smile this bright and early Saturday morning :-)

Kristan said...

Oh, I am so, SO ready for this life! I already O.B.S.E.S.S. perfectly! Glad to know my skillset is right on track...

Whirlochre said...

There comes a point when you stop thinking in hours, minutes and seconds, and move on to generations of giant turtles — if only to keep the digits down to triple figures.

Las Vegas Writer said...

Right now I'm waiting for responses to a query letter from several agents. This is my second novel I'm submitting right now, but my first was a DISASTER. I was not, what you call, a Professional Waiter. I checked email over twenty times a day, ran to the mailbox for some news, OBSESSED over the time it was taking agents to get back to me. It was ridiculous. Now, I work on something else. I have many more projects in sight right now and just have to focus on those for the time being! Great post!

SuzanneWrites said...

Haha. Great post. I really love your blog. :D

Mariam Maarouf said...

I'm a HUGE O.B.S.E.S.Ser! Grrr...
But I'm better now, I'm calmer - there's a foreign publisher who wants to translate my book and, while waiting for their first reply, I checked my email two times every two seconds (wait, does that make it once per second?? hm..), but now, and after they left me waiting for a week, I left them hanging for 5 days before I replied, and now it's all okay.

The thing is - like relationships, you have to make your bf/gf - publisher/agent/CP in that case - wait, and OBSESS just like you. Not sure if I made them OBSESS, but it feels better!

Oh, and stay away from chocolate. Just sayin'.

Victoria Dixon said...

Yes, there's obsession, there's obesity and depression, recession (Not the monetary kind, though it's there. This is the kind where you recess into the darkest corner of your house and emerge only when you're quite sure the email is there. Click. Damn.) the "sions" list goes on and on! Just like the pile of dishes, dirty clothes, late library books, unopened mail, etc....

agatha82 said...

That was hilarious and oh so true. I'm quite addicted to checking emails...it's awful. Only way to stop me from refreshing to see if there are any new emails is to just turn off the internet connection for a while.

Paula Hrbacek said...

You missed one; becoming so obsessed with perfection that you talk yourself out of submitting it just yet, waiting for it to be perfect in every way.