The Curious World of Waiting

There is a great deal documented about the process of writing a novel: crafting a plot and characterisation and the story arc or the editing process, for example. There has also been much written about the finished product of a book: working with an agent who then finds a publisher before cranking into life the great marketing machine to try and sell as many books as possible.

What I’m interested in right now; something that has been woefully under-documented in my opinion is the in-between stage. This is the stage when you have polished your manuscript to within an inch if its life, sent it round several people to read and provide feedback, then you send it out to agents. You feel it’s ready. You feel it’s sure to be snapped up, because it’s great, right? And then you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

We spend so much time waiting for things to be over. | by ...

It feels like a curious, twilight no-man’s land in-between stage. I mean, really, what is a writer to do during this period? Many agents state on their websites that this is not a beauty pageant; that they are not interested in seeing manuscripts that have been sent around every other agent in the Artist’s and Writer’s Yearbook. They also say that you must expect to wait at least 8 weeks to hear anything back (more during Covid, as every other person apparently has been writing books over lockdown). I get it: literary agencies are inundated with submissions and they only have a certain amount of staff to help go through them all. But wow. At least eight weeks. I really am in for the Long Wait.

Don’t underestimate this waiting game – it’s hard. Each time I hit that send button, having worked hard to tailor my submission to the particular agent’s requirements (and believe me, this in itself can take a long time), I feel so full of hope, because I truly believe in my book. But it doesn’t mean a huge amount until I can get an agent to believe in it as well (let me not even get started on how securing an agent doesn’t even guarantee publication – that is a whole ‘nother story.)

Sitting and waiting (I am of course working on other things meanwhile: poetry, a memoir, guest blogs to name a few), it hits me afresh with startling clarity that this is not a career for the faint-hearted. As well as a damn good story and unique voice, a writer needs self-belief, gumption, self-preservation and a very strong resolve to not be constantly hitting the refresh button.

And now, back to the waiting…

Rebecca Stonehill

Thank you for reading this blog post. If you have any experiences about the curious world of waiting, I’d love to hear about them. If you enjoyed this blog post, compliment it with my experiences of self-publishing my third novel The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale; the inspiration I was given by Kenya to write my second novel, The Girl and the Sunbird & A Few Thoughts on rejection of my first novel, The Poet’s Wife.

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