Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Writing Theory of Relativity and the Waiting Game


The first thing you learn about the traditional publishing world is that the time-space continuum actually follows different rules. Einstein forgot about the Writing Theory of Relativity:

PA=IWT - T1/2H

and it's corollary: IWT=AWT x 10

(That's Published Author=Imagined Writing Time minus half a head of hair (from stress, of course)).

And Imagined Writing Time = Actual Writing Time (time it takes to conceive an idea, write, revise, revise and then revise) x 10. Obviously.

So what to do with all that waiting time? Here are a few words of advice, depending on which stage of the game you're in.

1. Have Shiny, New Idea and afraid it will take a millennium to produce first draft.
Stop wasting your time reading my blog. Go write.

2. Have First Draft, now letting it ferment happily while waiting for the revision stage.
Ah, the abyss between stages. Now is the time to throw away the dead fish in your fish tank because you were too busy writing your first draft to feed them. Also, clean house. Compost dying house plants. Feed self. Feed children. Shower. Remember that stuff?

3. Done revisions, waiting for crit-partner/beta feedback.
Now is a fun time to read other books, so you can compare yourself to other writers.
It will either
A) feel like you're yanking off fresh, new scabs (if the book is awful, because hey, it's taking forever to get your far more excellent stuff out there) OR
B) feel like you're yanking off fresh, new scabs (because the books you're reading are so kick-ass it tortures you).

4. Querying, waiting for Agent Demigods to respond to you.
Go seek therapy. What did you think I'd say? Go seek a beer? For goodness sake, I can't be responsible for making a bunch of alcoholic writers. Yeesh.

5. Waiting for Agent Demigods to read your manuscript after partial/full requests.
Have therapist move into your house. Seriously. Hey, did you shower yet? Is that an empty beer bottle in your sink?

6. Waiting for Publishing Deities to buy your manuscript.
No idea what this feels like. Since I have an imagination, I'd guess that fire ants and vinegar on flayed skin might feel better than this particular stage.

7. Waiting for Shiny, New Book to emerge on the market for purchasing.
Okay, I have no sympathy for you guys. This is where you need to buy ME a beer. Or bacon. Or chocolate.

I'm probably missing a few stages here, and I know I didn't include the journey made by those amazing souls who have circumvented traditional publishing to get their stuff directly out there.

In any case, the therapist now living in my basement bathroom thanks you for letting me vent.

Please take a moment and visit Deb Salibury's blog, where she answers this month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question on how to deal with the loss of your writing mojo! Check out Laura's previous post and mine (Writing Mojo No Mo), and Sarah Fine's!


The Golden Eagle said...

I can't believe I haven't heard of this theory before. It makes perfect sense!

I'm in the middle of 2 and 3 right now--working on revisions/rewrites.

Laura Pauling said...

It really is all about waiting. And that is not easy!

Jessica Bell said...

haha. Great list, but you might want to add one more stage. Self-promotion! Not one to toot your own horn? Well get used to feeling like a door to door salesman :-/

Kelly said...

The writing process from idea to published takes so freaking loooong!
I'm happily writing an awesome wip I'm excited about while anxiously waiting on queries and fulls... So. hard. to. wait. on. those.

mooderino said...

A doctor and a scientist. Very impressive.


Anne Gallagher said...

You mean I have to shower at some point?

Angela Felsted said...

I like #2. It hits way too close to home.

Sarah said...

I'm at stage 6, and you got it just right. Brilliant post, Lydia!

Old Kitty said...

I'm at the stage trying to figure out the mathematical equation. LOL!!

Take care

B.E. Sanderson said...

OMG, awesome post, Lydia. You're totally right - published authors need to buy us chocolate. ;o)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Man, being a writer is like the best lesson in patience, ever.

I keep telling my kids that they can't be writers. They're not patient enough. :D

storyqueen said...

The important thing is to keep busy during the waiting.

For me, the hardest wait is with something new. Letting someone read it for the first time as you wonder if it really is any good or just a bunch of junk.

Love your equation!


Carol Kilgore said...

You forgot the particular hell that is writing the query letter and synopsis :)

L.G.Smith said...

So that's what I'm missing -- an in-house therapist. I gotta get me one of those. Either that or another six-pack. :P

Jennee said...

haha! I love those equations. So creative and true!

Anonymous said...

Seriously. Funny. Post. I'm in a couple of those stages at once, or I was until this weekend. Now I'm sort of in between.

I wait by being a better housekeeper (snort), crocheting, reading, or writing something different. As soon as I get my current draft off to the betas, I have a new project to start.

Thanks for the laugh!

Connie said...

I'm at stage 5 with current manuscript. You forgot "finger cramping" from all the clicks to refresh email to find out what said demigod thinks of the full you sent.

Carol Riggs said...

LOL, loved this. Yes, writers have to be good at waiting! (the key = doing something ELSE). I dread doing #6, ugh. Will be on my upcoming horizon. But still, I plan to write on something else to distract myself!

notesfromnadir said...

Agent Demigods & Publishing Deities! Way too apropos. The best thing you can do is keep on writing because waiting will get you nowhere.

Anonymous said...

LOL! I wonder if I could be my own therapist? ...Probably not, cuz it hasn't worked so far, haha!

Ugh, I just wanna get some requests already, LOL!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot, I tagged you on my blog today. :)

Heather said...

Ah yes, all that waiting time. And it's only getting longer with the difficulties in the industry. Writing a shiny, new book is a great idea!

Bossy Betty said...

Love how you break this into stages. I did a "stage" post today too! Great minds!

Linda Gray said...

Hahaha! What a wonderful list. Shower? Can't, there's not enough soap or shampoo, it's a lost cause. Does the therapist living in your basement bathroom do phone therapy???

Olga said...

I laughed over this post for quite a long time. Almost every point can be applied to the life of the artist.

Leslie Rose said...

I knew I should have stayed in physics. Time certainly drips much slower during the query process.

Corey Schwartz said...

OMG. Best. Post. EVER. I am currently stuck in #6 and #7. Yes, 6 is far worse, but PB have a three year wait time after contract is signed. RIDICULOUS. So that is getting to me too!

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This is great! It just gets better and better.
I am only at number 3. It is a nice break.

I have to remember to grow some thick skin for the rest.

Ricki Schultz said...

I'm in stages 1 AND 5 which equals EW. Can I get that therapist's number?? And, OKOK, off to write. :)

Awesome as always!

Krispy said...

Basically, cultivate patience and try not to freak the heck out.

Can I get the therapist in an earlier stage, and may I ask where you got yours? :P

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wish I'd started writing while I was waiting. Of course, I never planned past my first book!

Libby said...

The therapist is terrific advice. Oh, the waiting.

E. Arroyo said...

LOL. Great take on things!

Jennifer Hillier said...

How have I not seen this theory before? ;) GENIUS.

Meredith said...

Haha, hilarious! I'm definitely going to be seeking beer/wine while querying...yikes.

Trisha said...

Heh, how about the 'in between' stage where you've done heaps of revision but then get burned out near the end of draft #4.5? LOL

Rachna Chhabria said...

Love this theory. I have sent my MS to my crit partner, am waiting for her to read and give her feedback. Thank God, my crit partner is in New Zealand, else I would be calling her everyday to know whether she has read the book.
In the meanwhile can I borrow the therapist living in your basement?

sarahwedgbrow said...

I love this post. Makes me feel like I've got company in the waiting room. xx

Heather Hellmann said...

I'm at number 3 right now. I'm nervous about number 4. Great post!

Beth said...

Great post. I'm off to do what you told me to in #1!

M Pax said...

The waiting sucks. The no's suck. Somedays I wonder what's wrong with me for choosing this.

Jonene Ficklin said...

Ha ha! That was good. Now I need to go consult with the therapist in my broom closet because I guess he belongs in the basement.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! I'm at 3 for one WIP but 2 for others. Excited to see 6in the comments.

Robert Guthrie said...

on 7... should there be fund that published writers support in order to help the not-yet-published make through? Bacon & chocolate for all.

Janet said...

You're funny!
Thanks for the girly giggles and a good perspective!
Happy Memorial Day!

Harsit Garg said...

Thank you
Your blog is very informative.
homework helper

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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