NOW. In my anxiety-driven inner world, that’s when I want everything to happen. I want a publisher now. I want to be accepted to do my master’s now. I want my next novel finished (or at least first-drafted) now.
Yet I’m learning—the slow way—that’s definitely not how the literary industry works. Nor necessarily should.
It took me nearly two years to write Beneath the Cardboard Moon. From query letter to agent took three months (though one agent straggled back with a response six months later). From agent to having the manuscript ready to be seen by editors took four months. Now I’m itchingly stuck in the waiting-to-hear back mode, the manuscript being placed—strategically and thoughtfully—in the right editors’ hands.
While I hold my breath.
At the same time, I’m waiting to hear back from the University of British Columbia. A couple of weeks ago was the deadline to apply for the master’s program in creative writing; I’d submitted my application a good month before. I shouldn’t expect to hear back until December. Ack!
Yet is a master’s degree valuable? Will it take time away from the newest novel I’m writing, now in its research-heavy infancy? Or will it give time for ideas to bubble and thoughts to formulate and connections to be made and storylines and characters to deepen? Do I have to be in a rush?
I’m inspired by Aislinn Hunter, author of The World Before Us, who took 12 years between novels. She told CBC:
I had a goal when I finished my last novel Stay. There was a lot of pressure to produce, but I really wanted to grow as a writer, so I was happy to take my time as I went along. Really, what I wanted to do was hone my craft and create a book that had every good thought I could put into it. Novels are really, really hard. I don’t think that, even if you’ve done one novel successfully or quickly means you can do another successfully or quickly. It was an arduous process and there was a steep learning curve.
So maybe waiting isn’t so bad. Maybe waiting simply means doing things better.
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