Monday, March 5, 2012

Orson Welles Says Wait

I'm about to share some advice I haven't completely internalized myself. There's two-parts, so here's #1: Publishing is the slowest business on Earth. (I've got that.)

#2: It's OK for me to slow down, too.

Gah! That's the part I can't internalize.

We live in a super fast-paced society, right? Everything is instant gratification, and no one should be made to wait for anything. It's bad business, and it's bad for business. That's how we're trained since childhood.

I have the added disadvantage of coming to this game from a primarily print-news background. It's actually good and bad.

Source
It's great because I have loads of discipline about meeting deadlines and getting stuff done. Staying on point, crafting strong ledes.

It's bad because news is one of the fastest businesses on the planet.

Even worse, I worked about 18 months in television news, which moves at the speed of light.

OK, maybe more like sound, but I'm just saying. In television, if it happened today, and you didn't get it on by 10 p.m., it's Old News.

I know, exaggerate much? Actually, No. I don't.

So then I got it in my head to try and write a book. And lo and behold, I did it! Oh my god!

About half-way through, when I realized it might actually happen, I shot off a ten thousand-word equery to Dan Lazar at Writers House all about how I was a published journalist, I was writing this book, and he was going to love it once it was done. Oh, why him? Meh, I picked his name off the list because I'd heard Writers House was good, and he took equeries. The end.

Ten points to Gryffindor if you can name everything I did wrong in that paragraph.

As time passed, I got feedback from some agents that my very first book needed revision. Pretty significantly. Perhaps if I hadn't equeried 500 agents at once, I could've addressed that.

But no worries! I wrote a few more books and ultimately I did get an agent. Now I'm looking at revisions for the book we're about to send out.

And you know the advice I've been given? Take your time. Get it right.

For me, that is the hardest lesson. Slow down. Let it sit a few days and then go back to it with fresh eyes. Pick it up again, polish it some more, make it better.

Good books, like good wine, take time. Take it from our boy Orson. Once it's out there, it's out there. No taking it back.

Why not make it as good as it can be before releasing it?

Personally, I want it to happen now, now, NOW! But I bet we can all name books that would've benefited from a few more weeks (or months) in the barrel.

Have a great week, reader- and writer-friends! <3

38 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I agree, right now, it's better to wait. It's always better to wait if you know you can make your manuscript better! But looking at revisions at the very beginning isn't always easy to swallow! Good luck!

KarenG said...

Haha you sound like quite a few authors I've worked with in editing. And you have it so right-- everything in our culture moves at super speed, then you get into book publishing and it's like we're back in the 1920's or something, with things taking forever, deadlines not that big of a deal, and people have a really hard time dealing with that kind of mindset when it's something you want to see happen SO MUCH!

Natalie Aguirre said...

You're so right about publishing being so slow. Awesome that you've got an agent and are getting closer to submissions.

Bish Denham said...

I have the patience of Job but I think if I ever get an agent and get a book picked up by a publisher that I might get antsy even though I KNOW the industry moves as slow as cold tar.

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

man, i wish i were faster... but now i kinda don't...
you know, you just gave yourself the best excuse to pick up some extra leisure reading time... dude!

Tracy Jo said...

That is great and hard! It is one reason I am thankful for my Dystonia and why I get frustrated. ;-) I used to go super speed but now with the "D" - I HAD to slow down. Life is better slower and your book will be too! At least Spring is coming fast and if you have to step away from revisions...you can go outdoors and enjoy a good walk. Have an awesome, SLLLLLLOOOOOOW week! Hugs.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm getting much better at taking things slowly. I'm even starting to realize that my family should be my #1 and #2 priority. I want to expand on my photography and start doing more cool stuff with photoediting, but then I realize that would make me super slow when it comes to finishing my books. :P

SA Larsenッ said...

Too funny. This is the same subject I post about today, minus the agent. I'm still working on that one, but it seems to be taking me forever. I'm not the typical writer who wrote a book, queried the heck out of it, and moved to the next book, and so on. I wrote the first one, took classes and realized how much it sucked. I wrote a second one, queried only a handful and then realized the story needed to be told in a different tense and through duel POVs. Rewrote the entire novel and only queried about 14, getting my 6 requests - all of which had positive feedback but no takers yet, even said don't give up on this story. Geez, Louise... So I've written about half of two other stories but am back to revising book 2. Can you say tortoise?

Nicole Ducleroir said...

Patience is not a virtue I easily embrace, but so many times in life it is the saving grace in a whirlwind existence. Best of luck with the whole process, sweetie!

Clarissa Draper said...

I agree. We live in a world with everything immediate. No one takes time anymore to do things right. Well, I know for me, when I see people's published books popping up on the internet daily, it makes me want to hurry when I know I shouldn't. Thanks for this post.

Pat Hatt said...

I hate waiting around, I would rather have it done and move onto the next. But with that said I still take the time to make it good, I just hate the process afterwards, as it takes so friggin long.

Adrienne said...

Good points! I just wrote about how I feel I've let myself down if I have to take a break. But slowing down can be beneficial. Great post!

Old Kitty said...

Gorgeous LTM!! I had to turn 40 to realise what kind of writer I am and to get my act together - that was from having a burning writerly ambition since I was 6! LOL!!

I love to think of you as fine wine. Me - I think I'm more like smelly cheese that gets smellier as it matures but oh boy - what a bite a the end of it! Worth waiting for!
Ahem!

Take care
x

Chris Fries said...

I really enjoyed this, Leigh.

But if anything, when it comes to writing, although I can generate rapid word counts when focused, I tend to operate at the other end of the spectrum -- I put the "pro" in procrastination: "Just a little time to let it stew, and then a few more edits, and then..."

I admire your determination and motivation!

But, ummm... So Dan Lazar didn't agree to be your agent???? ;^)

Meredith said...

Such a hard lesson to learn, isn't it? Sometimes revisions feel like they can take forever, but I know I have to keep pushing through and make my WiP the best it can be, or all of that work would have been for nothing.

Colene Murphy said...

Yep... I am all about the NOW NOW NOW!! I finally had to stop myself a couple weeks ago and force myself to realize just because I hurry and make myself neurotic about getting it done as quickly as possible so I can get it to agents as quickly as possible so it can be a best seller as quickly as possible meant that I'd eff up more than I'd make progress, and I was. Finally had to force myself to realize that books weren't dying out, I wasn't going to lose my only window if I didn't get it out next month because there is no real window. I've felt much better...but I still have that OMG GET IT DONE NOW OR ELSE YOU'LL NEVER BE ANYTHING voice in my head. I just have to punch him in the mouth every so often. ;)

Good luck on your revisions!

Carolyn Abiad said...

Sigh. This is such an appropriate post for me today.

lbdiamond said...

It is SO hard to be patient!!!!

Yeah.

Nice post!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Leigh .. there's no point in rushing - what will be will be .. and perhaps it'll be calmer when it arrives and you'll appreciate it more - I sort of think 'everything' now .. is not good. Enjoy the build up .. and then enjoy the fruits of that writing tree ..

Cheers - I'm quite enjoying the slow lane .. Hilary

Jolene Perry said...

That is THE hardest lesson to learn. The hardest.

I have several projects going at once, so I can take the time to set something aside, and then when I'm ready to slow down and really look at each part of the story in turn, THAT'S when i work on that project.

Matthew MacNish said...

This is bad timing for me. I've become addicted to revision, and now that I'm actually querying, it's taking extreme force of will not to open that document.

DEZMOND said...

you know, Orson has often been in my country and he loved us and we loved him :)
It's true that publishing is something very slow. Sometimes some books get published more than a year after I've translated them ;) and sometimes they appear in bookstores a few weeks after I send them to my publisher :)

M Pax said...

Sometimes it is good to slow down. I took that advice over the weekend. Some talented editor finished my ms much earlier than I expected, so I was going to try and get it out before end of March. Then I decided I needed to slow down and get it right. :) Just like you said. So, the original release date stays intact.

DL Hammons said...

I am so uneven when it comes to patience. There are times when I'm cool, calm and collected...and there are other times when I bounce off the wall with anticipation. Hurry up to wait, that's the nature of this biz!

Janet Johnson said...

Ugh! Slowing down is hard. But getting it right the first time would sure save lots of time down the road. Hard to remember that in the midst. :)

Botanist said...

I got #1 ages ago, but I'm still struggling with #2.

Alina said...

Time in the barrel is a very good thing (says the writer whose debut spent nine years in said barrel). ;P

Lydia Kang said...

Yeah, the "take your time" thing is SO hard when you're starting out and eager for insta-success. That was me, too!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

For every writer friend I have that needs to slow down and make sure to get it right, I have one that I have to give a gentle kick in the derrierre to get to SEND THAT QUERY ALREADY.

Knowing where you fall on the spectrum is the best part, because you can work to address it. I think I fall somewhere in the middle now, but in the beginning I struggled a lot with knowing when the MS was "ready." Now I have more confidence, grown from a lot of laps around the track to let me know when I've reached the finish line. :)

Liz Fichera said...

I can so relate to this post. I've only just started taking the good advice of slowing down a bit. "Slow and steady wins the race," right? ;-)

Lynda R Young said...

hehe, yup, I can relate to this. I have a hard time slowing down as well because I want it all NOW!!!! But you are so right. It's better to get it right.

Creepy Query Girl said...

OH Dan. The amount of first-time querries he must recieved. He was 'my first' request for a full, you know, for my first manuscript. Broke my heart. And as for the waiting- yeah, it still sucks. But I feel better about taking my time now. I have three writerly goals in mind right now. I've barely scratched the surface of #1 and I don't feel the slightest remorse:)

LTM said...

@Laura--Yeah, revisions can get you down. But even after the revisions are done, it's good to let it sit again and then go through it one more time. At least for me! :o) ((hugs))

@Chris--Glad to hear it! And procrastination was my big problem until 3/1 when a bloggy friend (Janet) and I made a pact: 1K/day for the month. or we post something humiliating on our blogs. It's working! (Poor Dan... ;o)

@LBD--Thanks. It's the hardest part! :o)

@Bot--Me, too! Now I'm thinking, "#1, I order you to do a #2." ... LOL! :D

@Liz--That's what they say anyway. Here's hoping they're right. I'm a little like DL now. Good & bad days. :o) <3

Theresa Milstein said...

Ha! Your story isn't far off from mine. And I didn't even the excuse of working in journalism when I rushed things. I think my query was shorter, but I think I quoted and asked open-ended questions...

Elle Strauss said...

There is so much hurry up and wait in this biz! Great post! I for one could use some tips on slowing down...but not until next year. :)

Talli Roland said...

YEESSSS!

I love this post.

I have always (and I mean always, right from kindergarten) been accused of rushing things to get them done. While I am a fast writer, I often need to tell myself to slow down and make sure everything is the best it can be.

Luckily (or not), I have a highly developed fear of failure, so that tends to keep the rushing in check!

Pk Hrezo said...

Um, yep... that pretty much sums it up. I'm always reminding myself there's no hurry... good books do take time. And that's ok. When I get to your point, I"m sure I'll be even more anxious than I am now.
And I'm so snagging those 10 points! LOL... I had a good chuckle reading about your first query. I remember mine as well and omgosh would it make you die laughing!!

LTM said...

@PK--Ugh! Those first queries. :p I actually interacted w/his then-asst. Stephen Barr, who was very kind and did not squash me like a bug. :D

I wonder if it's harder at this point than at any point. Hmm... maybe. I guess there's this idea that once you have an agent who believes in you, a contract is like snaps away. Not always the case... :o) <3