Reading and Writing and Waiting.

007 (640x435)In a counter-intuitive way, it’s a huge accomplishment to get my first rejection letter today. It means at least someone saw one of the submissions. Yay, me! In the meantime, I’m writing.
I get hooked by books, and by that I mean, jerked out of the water like a slimy big mouth bass with my fins and tail twitching, and my mouth opening  to breathe in air, when I’m used to water. I love a fish-out-of-water book that hooks me deep. With each new read, I hope it happens again.
It’ a challenge to cross the line from reading to writing. Some authors have such skill and vision that I worry I might defile them somehow when I scribble down an idea or sit at the keyboard. But still I take my seat, intimidated by an unwieldy combination of insecurity and hubris, grasping for the first words. Yes, the same words that compel me to write cripple me in the next moment. The irony is not lost.
A while back, while talking with friends, someone said, “I wonder what my book would be like, if someone gave me the time to write it.” She spoke with easy confidence that her un-written book would be worth reading, but it was the second half of the sentence that caught me. The if someone gave me the time part. It had the same ring as when I win the lottery
It stuck in my mind and I had to think it out. It seemed like waiting for someone to give you the time to write was kind of like getting a pass from gym class. It’s a reason you don’t have to get undressed and be awkward with sports equipment.
Besides, how would someone else give you time? No one I know has a second to spare. Even people who are languishing seem pretty busy about it.
My writing time is embezzled and I feel the guilt. I steal from loved ones, from chores that want doing. I steal from my own sleep. Hardest of all, I steal from my young mare, precious moments that will never come back. Nothing feels given, it’s all taken from places it’s needed and my selfishness leaves a trail.
But on the other hand:
“Oh my God, what if you wake up someday, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”  -Anne Lamott
In the beginning, it isn’t about how well you write at all. Any possibility of brilliance is totally over-shadowed by the mundane first step. You have to sit down and write, with time stolen from important things, and then snatched again, and again–with a sideways grin and a fist pump in the air. Mine!
The hardest part is done–the manuscript is finished and off looking for a press.  Now with a polite rejection letter, I’ve joined the elite ranks of pre-published writers. Pretty pleased about it. Count me one step closer.

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Anna Blake

0 thoughts on “Reading and Writing and Waiting.”

  1. I so identified with your wonderful idea of “embezzling time” – always feel that something practical takes precedence over “selfish” time writing (but suspect this is really my lack of ideas and discipline!). Must make the motivation stronger than the guilt!
    Congratulations on that letter – as you say it IS recognition – only means your writing doesn’t fit with that publisher, not that it isn’t Brilliant!

    • I think framing this rejection is the usual thing, seems like every author is supposed to have these, so I will feather a cap with it. It might be a little bit like all the sayings about getting bucked off and climbing back on. And we KNOW no one here is going to stay down for long.

  2. The best realization I ever had was this: each of us has all the time there is. No one has more, no one has less. The only question is, how will we apportion the time we have?
    Congrats on the rejection, too. Better to find a good fit with a publisher than to accept just anyone’s offer.

    • I am having all the time there is on a snow day, or as I like to say, an unpaid vacation day…Thanks for the comment and I’ll take your advice and not act too desperate! 😉

  3. I don’t always love writing about writing, but I love this! (and maybe it’s because I feel so personally connected to your process)

    • And Lara, I appreciate your connection here, and will not be letting you off that hook. I agree, writing about writing might be the weirdest of all genres…

  4. Anne Lamott! Love that sassy lady. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. I too am on this path. I have a 75K memoir on my dating fiascoes and horse successes that just needs a finished book proposal and lit agent. I just need to sit my butt down and do the proposal part. When is there ever time? Twitter is so much more fun. Riding more so. I wish you great success on the literary path.

    • Good luck, Susan. Writing my synopsis half killed me! And that’s what I mean, I survived the proposal process. Huge! Stick to it, Susan. Anything’s possible.

      • I have my chapter by chapter mini-summaries, Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂 Question: approximately how long was your synopsis?

  5. Susan, I have three symposis’, 250 word, 500 word and a 1000 word version. Each of the submissions asked for something slightly different. And I asked my editor for a good eye on it as well.


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