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.