Monday, 17 August 2020

On Patience and the Writer

As a writer, time can be your greatest ally or your most dreaded enemy, depending on how you look at it .

The publishing industry works at a snail's pace. As author and screenwriter Richard Curtis once said, 'Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write cheques.' Oh, how true.

I get a lot of emails from writers who have urgent problems they want fixing NOW. I myself have to sometimes drop everything to do some research, to find answers to technical issues or just to get some advice.

But publishers don't work this way. Ask them a direct question and they behave like my ex.

Either they don't answer at all, give you the brush off or make you feel small and grubby for daring to bother them with your pathetic request.

It can be very frustrating to have to wait for a reply that may never come - but such is the life of a career writer.

Life as Bottom Feeder

As a writer, you're the lowest in the foodchain. The most abhored, the most misunderstood, the most avoided and yet, ironically, the most necessary component of the publishing industry. How else do publishers get to be huge conglomerate monsters, slavering over cash and fighting over each other's riches?

Simple, by publishing the outpourings of all us, 'Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beasties', - to quote the great Scottish poet, Robbie Burns.

On the upside, you do get some kudos for being a good writer sometimes from agents or other people who want to cash in on something you've written.

But even then, writers often complain they feel like gatecrashers at their own parties. The film and publishing industry love to congratulate themselves on picking winners and bestsellers but seem to find it hard to even acknowledge the creators who get them so excited (and rich) in the process.

"You think writing is hard," they like to remind us. "You should try production and marketing - now that's hard!"

I guess it is. But how many glittering award ceremonies are there for writers? One or two? And how many of them are televised? Um...

Time is its Own Reward

Personally I like the way writing industry professionals take their time getting back to me. It gives me more time to write. I think that's the trick - and the answer to the problem.

You can't afford to write and then contact people. Contacting people is part of the ongoing process. Waiting is a futile and frustrating way of spending your time - especially if you're doing nothing but biting your nails and fretting.

Use your time wisely.

Keep writing.

If there's any delay in someone getting back to you, don't think you have keep bugging them until they answer. That won't work. It will only make them more resentful of you. Send out your query and then get back to work.

And keep writing.

In the process of getting published, you will face many delays - it's all part of process of editing, formatting, proofing, printing, marketing and promotion - all of these things involve people, which means it takes time. And the one thing all of these people hate is an impatient writer. The answer?

You must keep writing.

And if you think getting published takes forever, try waiting for royalty checks to come - now that takes forever!

So now you know what to do. Altogether now,

Keep Writing!

© Rob Parnell