You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place,
The Waiting Place . . .
- Dr. Seuss
Last fall started off as a whirlwind for me, as I placed my draft novel into the hands of critique readers for the first time. I tackled my mile long to-do list, beaming from ear to ear, while I waited to hear back from them.
I'd been floored by the number of beta reader offers I had received. In fact, I had so many, I asked several to be on a round two list, because I knew I'd need fresh eyes to look at my next draft.
I heard back from a handful within a couple of weeks, which got me really revved up. They liked the story and finished it out of desire rather than obligation, but had some general comments that I knew would require a serious round of edits. I'm a measure twice and a saw once kind of person, so I patiently waited for my other readers in hopes of more specific feedback.
One month turned into two. Halloween, the deadline I had given readers, arrived and passed. I sent out gentle reminders. Only one responded.
Two months turned into to three. My chest tightened every time I thought of the precious editing time I had set aside whittling away. Thanksgiving arrived. Then, the truth smacked me in the face. I had stagnated.
Now, it is important to note I had not been idle while waiting. One by one, I'd chipped away at the tasks on my to-do list. I'd successfully elevator pitched an agent to accept a query from me once my book is ready. My website, blog and Facebook author page are now up and running, a task I liken to getting teeth pulled. I'd even begun turning my book into a screenplay, though I quickly abandoned this effort reticent to continue knowing I had impending story changes. Remember what I said about measuring twice and sawing once?
I began to spin. I started to dread encountering people I hadn't seen in awhile, and the first question off their lips - "How is your book going?"
"It's not!" I longed to shout, but instead would smile politely and explain my situation.
In desperation to further accomplish something , anything, I broke out a short Sci-Fi story I've been sitting on for months, wrote up a query and hit the send button to a magazine publication.
A few days later, a friend of mine listening to my woes hit the nail on the head with a simple question.
"Well, you have been writing, haven't you?"
Sadness engulfed me. Of course I'd been writing - a contractor work scope, President's letters for a nonprofit organization I belong to, even an event manual. My frowned deepened, as I knew what he was really asking. In terms of furthering my goal of writing fiction, in my heart none of these documents are worth the time it takes to click the e-mail send key.
Here's the reality check. Last year, in the same three month time span I've spent piddling around in limbo, I spit out the rough draft of an 85,000 word novel.
The winter holidays were marching toward me, and with the New Year right around the corner, I made my first resolution for 2018 - NO MORE WAITING.
Sure, I didn't receive the detailed feedback I'd desired. But I did find out something important, very important. People liked my story. Waiting had simply eroded my confidence.
If I had the ability to write a book, than I certainly have the skill to ratchet up the tension in it a notch or two. Then, it hit me. I already have everything I need at my fingertips to critique my own work. I have faith in myself.
The New Year is here. I've plunged back into my fishbowl, and guess what? The smile is back on my face.
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