Slow Growth

Agents often seem to admonish writers to be patient.

It’s one of their core themes of advice to aspiring writers and, I feel sure, to the authors they’ve signed to work with. The industry moves slowly, they say. Give them time to work.

This advice is, naturally, also self-serving. It’s a nice way of saying “don’t bug me.” Fair enough. Agents and editors juggle a lot of balls and reading takes time.

What they don’t think about, it seems to me, is that we’ve already exercised tremendous patience.

If slow and steady wins the race, then the writers are trailing over the finish line well after the tortoise is in the club bar celebrating. Writing is an incremental craft. It’s like building stalagmites with the water of your soul. You flood the page with words and hope a few stick. Day by day, you watch the wordcount gradually increase. Then you see something formed wrong and you knock off a chunk, and let the words accrete again.

Once your pillar of salts has grown large enough and seems done, you polish and carve. It feels like you’re using your fingernails to do it.

Then, after all of those hours alone with your creation, you package it up and send it out into the world, to find out if anyone else thinks it’s neat enough to pay you for it.

And they tell you to learn patience.

All you can do in the end, really, is not bug them.

12 Replies to “Slow Growth”

  1. "It's like building stalagmites with the water of your soul."

    Niiice image. True image. Almost as good as the new image for your avatar.

    I have endless patience. I also have the mental institution on speed dial. ::cough::

  2. Yeah. There's a LOT of waiting around. But on the other hand, I think we've both seen what happens when writers try to jump the gun, and it doesn't work out to well…

  3. Yeah… we don't think about things like book deals for celebrities. It's a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

    KAK – We ALL have someone on speed dial to handle the crazies!

    Thanks, that image cracked me up when I wrote it. The hare is long gone, the tortoise is sitting at the club bar with a sloe gin fizz and the weary writer is out the window, trudging across the finish line, word by word.

  4. Yes, but the good thing about being the writer vs. the tortoise or the hare is we can take our slow gin fizz with us while do make our way along the path. I can only speak for myself, but for me the journey is as important as the destination. I love the art of crafting a story.

  5. Now, THAT is a nice image, Keena! And an excellent point. The art of crafting is part of the journey — and arguably the last time the book is ours, too. Cheers!

  6. Excellent blog post! Though an agent can certainly speed up the process of getting rejected, publishing still moves at a glacial pace for everyone.

    I should also point out that you said "balls."


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