Someone, a few months back, wrote an amazing blog post about patience and I can’t remember who it was or where I read it. I can hardly repeat that here, but I do have a few things to say about patience.
You need a lot of patience to be a writer. Patience with yourself when you aren’t writing as often as you’d like, or as well as you’d like. Patience with your muse, who doesn’t always appear on time, if she shows up at all. Patience with the process of locking yourself into your chair, shutting out all distractions, and letting your brain run wild for a time before settling down to work. Patience with the unfinished housework, the unpaid bills, and the uncooked meals. Patience with your spouse and your family and your friends, who don’t understand why it’s taking you five years to write a book when you don’t even have a full-time job. Patience with your ego, who wants desperately to be earning more money, getting published more often, and spending her weekends on Maui rather than at a laptop in a darkened room. Patience with literary journals who don’t publish your stories, if they even bother to respond. Patience with editors, who ignore your sagging story arc and critique the grammar and punctuation instead. Patience with writers’ groups who tell you to add more reflection and then, when you do, less. Patience with writing teachers who forbid flashbacks, discourage summary, or tell you memoirs shouldn’t be written in present tense. Patience with writing blogs that insist that a query letter be just SO. Patience with agents who don’t respond to queries for months if they ever respond at all. Patience with social media gurus who tell you that you must be blogging/tweeting/digging/stumbling upon thousands of fans to get your personal brand/author platform out there years before you’ve even thought of the topic of your book. Patience with munchkins who say, “Five more minutes, five more minutes, please” at bedtime when you’re anxious to hide away and write. Patience with your wrists when they hurt and your brain when it’s tired. Patience with the flu you caught that derailed your word count for the week. Patience with your laptop, which died before you had a chance to back up your latest draft. Patience with all technological devices, which sometimes fail because they are created by humans, who often fail. Patience with the numbers of times you will fail, get back up, brush yourself off, and fail again. Patience with the process because it’s lifelong, and publication, even super-mega-bestsellerdom, won’t change that.