Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress: The Waiting Game

In an essay I wrote several years ago, I mentioned how in some ways, I’ve been drawn to a life–the writing-and-publishing life–for which I am temperamentally unsuited. And that’s because two of the things I have always found most challenging are these: rejection and waiting.

As the essay notes, rejection has become much easier with time and experience. But I’m afraid that the patience project is still something more of a work-in-progress. It’s not merely a matter of waiting for the acceptance/rejection decisions. I’m also filled with anticipation (and, sometimes, anxiety) when I know that a new piece has found a home and–yes, after another wait–will be meeting readers.

At the moment, I have a lot that I’m looking forward to sharing:

  • two book reviews filed, one of which represents my first assignment for the publication;
  • a flash nonfiction piece in the new issue of the lovely Manor House Quarterly. The issue’s theme is “She,” and I expect my contributor copy to arrive soon;
  • a short story (technically, a stand-alone excerpt from my unpublished novel manuscript), to be published in December (online) with another journal I’m a fan of;
  • two guest posts–accepted but awaiting scheduling–for two terrific blogs; and
  • my newest “First Looks” column for Fiction Writers Review, which should, in fact, be posted sometime today.
  • On the anxiety side (mixing in a dash of that good old fear-of-rejection), there’s the AWP proposal I’m waiting to hear about. The Grub Street seminar I’m hoping to fill. And some other things I’ll tell you about as soon as I can.

    I just have to keep working on that patience thing, right?

    What’s notable on your writing-and-publishing horizons? Please share with us, in comments.

    11 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress: The Waiting Game

    1. Sarah says:

      Congratulations, Erika! I would be antsy, too, in your position. Waiting is probably the hardest part of writing. We hurry up to write & make deadlines, then we wait. Wait for acceptance/rejection. Then wait for publication if accepted. The hardest part for me is to go ahead and work on something new while I’m waiting to hear if my story got accepted or rejected.

    2. Erwin K. Roberts says:

      This has been a banner year for me in print. Two short stories in character anthologies. A two volume collection of interconnected stories. Plus a 47,000 word short novel.

      However, the first story published I finished in 2006. (The packager changed publishers twice, among other delays.) And the short novel, “Dr. Watson’s American Adventure” suffered a last minute fifteen month hold. (Insert screams, groans, and redacted dialog.)

      That’s roughly 140,000 words in print this year. But the waiting seemed endless.

      The good news: It is all -finally- in print. The (sort 0f) bad news: My inventory is largely cleaned out. Got to get writing again. ;^}

    3. Congratulations, Erika! It’s exhausting just to read that list of accomplishments. I can only imagine what it’s like for you to keep on top of them! I too am waiting to hear about an AWP proposal. Good luck. Hope to see you in Boston.

    4. Judy BF says:

      Erika: This blog post could not be more timely for me–three rejections yesterday. I was so disappointed, but they were nice rejections. The editors took the time to write my personal, detailed notes. Sigh–the writing life is really hard. J

    5. Shaun Hunter says:

      Lovely to see how your garden grows, Erica. I wonder if any of us is really suited to the writing life when it comes to the patience and rejection part. Part of the landscape, I guess.

      A few of my long-ago planted seeds have been popping up lately, too. Two essays coming out next month, and three invitations to read. In the meantime, the book-length memoir I’ve been working on for a long while seems to have gelled in its latest revision. This week, my task is to make the prose sing before I send it off for editing. Time to get dirt under my fingernails…

      Thanks, as always, for the opportunity to check in.

      1. Shaun Hunter says:

        Erika! (Sorry about that.)

    6. First, a mazel tov on all the wonderful projects! To paraphrase, may you go from success to success. Writing success is not a zero-sum game: the pie increases for all the more any one writer does well. I’m beginning to think that a pre-requisite to the writing (and publishing) life is temperamental unsuitability. We are by nature uncomfortable in our own skins, as one writer described our collective. But more than that, writing struggles with the yetzer hara – the evil inclination – at every stage. So I’d submit (and hopefully I won’t have to wait or be rejected for the idea) that once we defeat the yetzer hara by actually writing, it finds a new battleground on which to challenge our writing of our minds.

    7. Mihku Paul says:

      Inspiring! And good luck . . . Just recently gave a student the old “writing is a marathon, not a sprint” talk. Every so often I have to remind myself to just keep going. I am also impressed with the diversity of material you tackle. That is a useful reminder to other writers that so much can be done “while you wait.” A novel is a huge task and bringing it to fruition takes years. That doesn’t mean we can’t get into print in other ways.
      I just presented on this very subject at our Stonecoast reunion. Two years out from graduation it is becoming clear that some people are, sadly, dropping off the writers map.
      I remember being chided by my mentor for hounding him after I had sent in pages. He rather pointedly asked me what I expected of him. I apologized and learned a lesson, one that I am still learning. Writing requires patience. And this. The waiting is hard.

    8. Erika Dreifus says:

      Wow, what a great set of responses to cheer me at lunchtime! We’re all definitely in this together, aren’t we? Thanks so much for the reminders.

    9. Amy Morgan says:

      Such a joy to read of your successes! I find both inspiration and hope in your process as well – thank you for always sharing with us. I read “First Looks” last night and was so pleased to see FOBBIT as one of your choices. I just received my copy in the mail yesterday and am well into the first few chapters already.

      I’m excited to share that my story Journey’s Beginning has been selected to appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Finding My Faith. This is my first (jumping up and down with glee) publication in an anthology and my biggest publication to date. The book has 101 Inspirational Stories about Life, Belief, and Spiritual Renewal and is scheduled to be available in bookstores October 16, 2012. I am counting the days until I open my mailbox to find my advance copy!

      1. Erika Dreifus says:

        Amy, that’s fantastic news about the anthology (I have yet to have a piece accepted for Chicken Soup). Congratulations! And I’m also glad to hear that you’re reading FOBBIT.

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