Tag Archives: Patience

Patience is a…Reward?

Out of all the famous and clichéd phrases, one that I live the most by (or the one I think about most often) is “Patience is a Virtue.” My Aunt taught it to me when I was a young, impatient thing while we were at the bookstore and I just wanted the next book in the series she was buying me to be out (I think I was also impatient regarding the line wait time and how we had to wait at a restaurant later when my stomach was trying to eat my spleen and very vocal about it…) Needless to say, I’m not impatient now, thanks to her scolding (made more powerful by the fact that she never scolded). I actually like to think I’m a rather patient person. But sometimes, there are these cute little reminders that tell me I’m not always patient, even when I really need to be.

Particularly when I want to pitch my manuscript yet I know said manuscript needs more work. Being patient becomes especially hard after I’ve been editing it for ages and don’t particularly want to edit it any more.

I’ve edited the manuscript in question over a dozen times (and more often than not, the word count increased instead of decreased; weird how that happens). Looking at where the story is now versus where it started is such a mind-blowing transformation to me, on how much it has improved. And that isn’t me trying to be cocky or claiming I’ve written the next great American novel. That’s me recognizing where my story started and appreciating practically five years worth of work being put into it to improve it. Plus, I can’t imagine trying to get the first draft of the story published. It wasn’t near ready. I knew it then and I knew it now.

So that’s why, after trying to get the numerously-edited version represented and realizing that it still isn’t ready, makes me a bit impatient and makes me groan inside.

As I’ve started entering into more contests and queried more agents (thus, receiving more rejections), I’ve realized that despite the leaps and bounds my manuscript has taken, it still isn’t ready, for various reasons. I’m still learning about this manuscript and this story, which is both invigorating and insane, considering the work I’ve put into it. And as a recent contest popped up that I wanted to enter–and planned to–it took conscious effort to realize that I shouldn’t be entering it when I know my manuscript isn’t ready. I just didn’t want to do the work involved. So not only am I being impatient with my work, but I’m also being lazy.

Talk about a slap to the face to a project I’ve spent five years on–and I’ve slapped myself, no less!

Because here’s the thing: yeah, there are a lot of writing contests going on that I would love to enter, particularly for the communities that surround them and what I can learn from them. Yeah, I’m itching for an agent to love my story as many readers have (again, not trying to be cocky, but confident) so I can take the next step in making my dream come true. But rushing it not only hurts my manuscript and ruins a possible opportunity, but it is also disrespectful towards the work I’ve already put into it, as well as any work others have (and still are, bless them). This story is the first I’ve finished on such a scale (a trilogy!). Yes, editing is a never-ending progress, so eventually I will hit a point where it is ready “enough” and I’ll query again. But until then, I need to respect the story and respect myself enough to be patient and put in the work, to give my all to a story I love so much and to give it the best chance it can possibly have of being told. Because once it is ready–truly ready–it will get picked up. It will find representation and it will get published.

Respect yourself. Respect your work. Give it the time and attention it deserves. Listen to the feedback and the lessons and then actually incorporate them. Don’t just rush into the next set of queries or the next contest because that is more exciting or the thought of reading through that chapter again makes your head hurt. Your patience–and the work you put because of said patience–will reward you, in time. So take breaks. Let your manuscript breathe. Find critique partners to read it while you write something new, rejuvenate your mojo. And then get back to it, refreshed and energized–even if that means you spent six months doing so and will spend a few more editing, before you can enter the query trenches again. Don’t put a deadline on dreams. Instead, believe in them and believe in yourself enough to work for them, so one day, you can watch them come true.

Cheers.

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Single Status: A Choice and a Dream

Valentine’s Day is always a hit or miss for me emotionally. Most years, unfortunately, I find myself pretty miserable, wishing I had someone to spend it with and someone to spoil with letters filled with gushy confessions they already know and a ridiculous amount of chocolate. Spending 23 years solo will have that affect on you, at times (though, let’s be honest for a moment: about half of those years, I either didn’t know about romance or didn’t realize I wanted a guy, as I was too concerned with beating them on the pitch to prove my worth as a soccer player ((tomboy life, right there)), so really, I’d only say there has been half a dozen years or so since being alone of Valentine’s Day really struck a cord; but half a dozen isn’t as dramatic as 23 years, and I am a writer, after all. But, I digress.). This year, however, I was quite content with my single status. Instead of moping and dreaming of my ideal date with the most amazing guy, I went and caught a flick that I thought was perfect for the day of romance: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Not only was the film fantastic, but it had an awesome blend of romance and gore that just warmed my very odd heart. And truly, you can’t really do better than Mr. Darcy, can you? (I’d marry him for his eloquence, if nothing else. Goodness).

Plus, I didn’t have to share my nachos with anyone, so there are benefits to the single life.

Later that evening, I was reminded why I was single very bluntly. And it wasn’t because my friends who are in relationships were posting about all of the lovely things they did that day or because I was growing depressed imagining what else I could have done that day had I a romantic interest. No, instead, it was seeing what my Dad got my Mom as a Valentine’s/birthday present combo that made me realize not only why I’m single, but why I frankly choose to be, even though I want nothing more than to be in love.

Let me explain.

Two weeks earlier, my Mom dropped a hint that she wanted a band to go with her wedding ring. She didn’t harp about it, she just mentioned it offhandedly to my Dad and then we went about our day.  My Dad went and bought the band with my sister the next week, but not after talking with me and my siblings multiple times to make sure he heard her right and got exactly what she wanted. Fast forward to V-Day, when my Mom woke up to a jewerly box on the table and a card. Yet inside the jewerly box wasn’t the band, but a beautiful cross necklace. My Mom was convinced it was the band, but the necklace was perfect, too, so she wasn’t too disappointed. Later that evening, my Dad–after contemplating half a dozen ways to give her the band, including leaving it in the fridge for her to find after her shower and (thankfully) ignoring my suggestion that he lay in front of the fire in a “draw-me-like-one-of-your-French-girls” Titanic pose–before he finally decided to use three different cups and hide both boxes separately under different cups, leaving one cup with nothing underneath. My Mom would walk into the kitchen and have to play the guessing game of which cup held her prize. Meanwhile, both jewelry boxes were empty and the ring was in his pocket. Which, after she realized this, he pulled out in a very charming and corny way. My Mom loved it and it was all very cute.

But how does this relate to my eternal state of singleness?

On the day where love is expressed openly and often obnoxiously, I was reminded by my parents of the type of love I want: with a partner who knows me, listens to me, who is both romantic and fun, and the utmost gentleman. My Dad shows all of these things and more on a daily basis for my Mom, but this year, Valentine’s Day was a blatant reminder. He listened to my Mom about what she wanted but he wasn’t afraid to ask for clarification from us kids. That shows courage, humility and attention. When he gave her the necklace first, he knew she would think it was the ring and feel slightly disappointed, despite loving that necklace. Doing so not only turned a romantic gesture fun, but it reflects my Dad’s love for my Mom so well: he knows her well enough to know how she will respond and what necklace to get her when she wanted a band. Yet he stays true to himself in everything–and if you know my Dad, corny and goofy and funny sums him up pretty well, all which were reflected in the way he gave her both presents. Plus, seeing my Dad get excited about the band and struggle to come up with the perfect way to give it to my Mom showed that, despite them being married for almost 24 years now, they still sometimes get nervous around each other and their love is still strong. And that’s just beautiful.

That’s what I want. I want a man who understands me and can be quirky and fun and romantic. I want a guy who knows himself and isn’t afraid to be that man. I want a guy who I can talk to and trust and grow beside. I want a guy to challenge me as I challenge him. I want someone who communicates with me and accepts me as exactly as I am, curves and quirks and nerdiness and all. I don’t care about expensive gifts or being showered with presents constantly. Just like my Dad knows my Mom, my man would know that my perfect Valentine’s Day gift would be a trip to the local bookstore and then an evening of his undivided attention, no electronics attached (look for my Luddite post later this week to learn more of what I mean by that).

The reason I’m still single is because I’ve been spoiled by my parents to see the quintessence of what love should be. I see the potential of what a person can share with another person that they care deeply about and I yearn for that. And I’m stuck in a world where many guys, quite bluntly, don’t want to give that much in a relationship. They don’t reach those expectations and standards I have grown up believing should be natural, basic, to a healthy and true relationship. People tell me I have high standards, that I’m single because I expect too much. This Valentine’s Day, I was proud to be reminded of why I won’t settle for anything less than a love that emulates the one shared by my Mom and Dad. That’s why I wait. That’s what I want, that’s what I expect, that’s what I strive for and that’s what I search for. Does it make me a bitch, to expect a man to live up to higher standards than society places upon them? Some may consider me so. Does that mean I may reach 30, 40, 50, before my streak of solo Valentine’s Days is broken (if ever)? Perhaps. But in the same vein, whatever man steals my heart, he’ll be damn sure that if I hold him to such high standards, I hold myself to higher. Everything I expect from him, I plan to give tenfold. So why, on Earth, would I ever settle?

Here’s to finding examples of love and dreaming about your own. Here’s to knowing yourself and what you want and not changing it because others think you should. Here’s to standing your ground. Here’s to patience. Here’s to hope. Here’s to wanting and giving more. Here’s to choosing to rock the single life while dreaming of a novel-wothy relationship.

And here’s to discounted chocolate.

Cheers.