Lately I've been thinking about patience. It's a trait I've never had much luck with.
But it's pretty much a requirement for a novelist. Waiting years, or more, to finish a book. Waiting until it's as good as you can make it to send it out. Waiting for agents, editors. On her blog Pub Rants, agent Kristin Nelson recently blogged about how publishing houses are taking weeks, months (six months!) to negotiate contracts with authors. Another agent, Rachelle Gardner, posted on her blog about how prolific writers can end up several books ahead of their publisher.
In terms of the writing process, a little patience can be a good thing, too. Author Alisa Libby (in a blog interview with author Anna Staniszewski) recently said, "I am incredibly impatient—both with myself and with my writing. Why can’t I write faster? I ask myself. Why do I have to revise a book so many times? Maybe an ounce or more of patience would slow down my writing process and require fewer drafts." After all, slow and steady wins the race, right?
But sometimes patience isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes an author should be actively submitting her manuscript, working hard to find the right agent. Sometimes a story is timely, and needs to get out as soon as possible. And sometimes, I believe, writers need to push themselves, write as quickly as possible, and jump around a bunch, in order to find the heart of their story.
Earlier in January, I blogged about whether or not my first draft HAD to make it to The End. I was eager to start revising Project Demo, filling in various details I had skipped along the way, deepening my story.
So impatience won. I wrote a detailed outline of my book's climax and resolution, and then jumped back to the beginning. I'm currently working on Chapter 2 of Project Demo. Was it the right decision? Or rash?
I have no idea. At the moment, I'm happily revising. But there might be all sorts of problems waiting for me when I attempt to write my climax for the second time.
Perhaps it isn't just about patience. Perhaps it's more about instinct. Sometimes we push, sometimes we hold. Sometimes we just have to guess based on how we're feeling at the moment.
What about you? Do you consider yourself a patient person? A patient writer?