Chip MacGregor

July 7, 2010

Waiting. Waiting. And Waiting some more …


Winter 2010 headshot News around here is that publishing is operating at a s-l-o-w-e-r than its usual s-l-o-w pace now for a few weeks. I'm trying to take advantage of this by catching up on submission reading. And I'm getting there, though still working every day to move projects along as well. And I'm also breaking into sudden fits of cleaning out closets, drawers, bookshelves, cupboards. 

I was thinking today how hard it is to wait on others to make decisions that will impact your immediate, and possibly long-term future. When I worked as a freelancer I constantly queried editors, sent articles out on spec, responded to editing suggestions, and then waited on others to tell me what my next step might be regarding an assignment. While I liked having multiple projects going because it represented income and productivity, truth be told, I preferred the finished project – and not just for the paycheck, but because I simply like having things settled. Put away.

I'm a very organized person by nature. Not as in all-my-pencils-lined-up-in-a-row and all-my-spices- alphabetized organized, but I like to know where my stuff is. Don't like an excess of it to distract me or waste my time, and I LOATHE looking for things. I like things in their places. Like my Monopoly pieces lined up straight and my money tucked in a neat stack, ready for quick access in case an opportunity arises to buy St. James, another Railroad, or YES!, Boardwalk!

In my role as an agent, I have finally come to a sort of tacit understanding with the reality that I will now always have open loops hanging over my head; I will always have projects in indifferent stages, sometimes out at multiple places, and often completely out of my hands in regard to the final decision.

And I have had to make peace with knowing that I'll constantly in a state of waiting to hear back on behalf of a whole host of projects that will impact a number of individuals. And families, actually. I don't take that lightly. I know it's HARD to always wonder what the status of your project is. Thinking about it can be draining and downright stressful. And feel fairly random sometimes. But it's not all that random, actually. Not really. Waiting is part of the publishing process for all of us.

Something I've done to help me make order out of what often feels like a messy, random process is to make myself a project board. It's a very elementary school looking piece of work  hanging on the wall of my office (seriously, it's made with poster board, sticky notes, and string) but it works to help me track the status of the multiple projects I'm working on at any given moment. And it reminds me what the next step is for each one. Of course the ultimate "step" is to get each project (represented by a color coded sticky note) to the "SOLD" column, and fortunately this column is looking fairly respectable for this time of year. 

But I will admit that it's  heavier than I'd like in the "READ/DECIDE" and "OUT" (meaning sent to publishers and needs follow up) columns. And that adds up to a lot of waiting all the way around, I know. 

And, like you, I hate waiting. Whether you're a first time writer hoping for a positive response to your first query, a published author looking for that next contract, or an agent trying to learn when the next pub meetings (and hopefully decisions) will take place, waiting is just part of gig and something we all must do.


Hey, need any help with that hall closet?

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