I’m not good at waiting.
I remember a time early in my marriage when I was struck by a creative muse and got up around midnight to write a story that wouldn’t let me go. When it was finished, I liked it so much it made me giddy. I wanted so badly to share it that I woke my husband from a sound sleep, turned the reading lamp on to its highest setting, and pushed my story under his nose.
Startled by my exuberance and the brilliant illumination, he shielded his eyes and squinted at me to determine the source of my distress. When he realized there was none, his entire body sighed with exasperation. He would have given me his incredulous face if he could have held his eyes open.
Instead, he took the pages as he rolled away from the lamp’s glaring light, and slid MY MASTERPIECE under his pillow on his way back into dreamland.
Not one to give up easily, I yanked his shoulder back so I could retrieve the captive pages and encouraged him again to take a look.
“I can’t believe you won’t support me,” I wailed.
Sensing he was somehow in the wrong, my husband struggled to sit up. He took the papers and honestly tried to focus. Instead of reading, I suspect his brain was weakly calculating the requisite number of seconds he had to sit upright before I’d believe he’d read it. He handed the papers back and mumbled, “Looks good,” before slipping away again. Never mind that they were upside-down.
I spent the rest of the night pouting.
He finally read it the next day, somewhat alert and mostly awake after a poor night’s sleep. He gave me good comments and some constructive feedback. His serious attention to the details compelled me to go back and look at it again. I realized it wasn’t as good as I’d thought the night before, and I rewrote it three or four times before I liked it again.
Since then, I’ve learned to be a bit more considerate about when to share, and to put my ego on the back burner. At least I hope I have.
However, when I took Joe’s story proposal to the writers’ conference recently, that giddy kid resurfaced. I drove down to Asheville feeling a bit like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, who just knew his teacher would like his paper about the Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock so much that she would tell his parents to purchase one immediately.
My appointment with the agent was on the first day, and I approached her table with a mix of excitement and fear. I didn’t bring the giant basket of fruit as Ralphie would have, but I did almost give her that knowing wink. And I must confess, I looked around for a blackboard on which she could scrawl “A++++++!”
She took my proposal and read. For a long time. The voices in my head waged a battle of conjecture as I watched. “She loves it. She hates it. She’s read 50 others just like it today alone. I should have worked harder on the opening. She nodded! She likes it. She’s taking too long. She hates it…”
At last she looked up, smiled at me, and said, “Would you e-mail this to me?”
YES! YES! YES! Wait, what?
She didn’t ask for my manuscript, but for an electronic copy of the proposal. For a while, I was crushed. Surely, she saw the potential in Joe’s story. I’d been expecting to leave this place an agented author.
But then I remembered that long-ago late-night “reading” and found peace. I received the best possible response for a conference setting. There was no way she could give that proposal a definite assessment there, with hundreds of would-be authors clamoring for her attention. She wants to read it again, later, when she can give it serious focus. And I must wait. She said it could take two or three months for Joe’s story to reach the top of her pile. Sigh.
I sincerely believe that because patience is one of the many virtues I lack, the less content I am with waiting, the longer it will take. So, I’m back at my writing desk. While I wait, I will finish the final chapter of Joe’s story and start working on my web page, to make it a more active place of business.
Instead of pining for answers, I will be thankful for how far along this book has come, and I will quote the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
The agent will contact me at just the right time. I will be patient, and I will remember that she did smile.
I will also keep checking behind the stereo for a package. You never know.
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14