Anticipation, or In It for the Long Run

I was mulling over this post, and then I came across Shawna’s post at Just Another Day in the Life, on the waiting that is such a part of the publication (or getting-to-publication) process. It says some of what I was already thinking, and I thought I’d add my tweak to the discussion.

Just so you know, this is a realization post, not (as much as it might sound like one) a whine post.

After getting a good way into the synopsis I’ve been working on, I read a bit further into the SCBWI grant information (and, yes, I should have done this sooner; but, no, I didn’t; and, anyway, I got a lot of good information and push out of the work I did do. So.). And it turns out I’m just not far enough along in this manuscript to apply for the grant. Don’t worry, I know there’s a YET in that sentence, and I’m certainly not ruling out the possibility of submitting for another year.

Anyway, I admit, I did have a few hours of “funk” when I first figured this out, but then, you know, my copy of the Writer’s Digest magazine article in it showed up, and life was pretty good again. Still, it all got me thinking.

And I realized that, while I drink hardly any caffeine and don’t ingest any other form of stimulant (other than an occasional decongestant!), I still may have a bit of adrenaline junkie-itis in my make-up. As in, one of the reasons it felt good to think about applying for the grant and one of the reasons I hit a funk, was that not applying meant I don’t have anything big and exciting to anticipate in the near future, not in terms of that journey to fiction publication that Shawna’s talking about.

I may be one of the few people I know who likes the querying process. When I was submitting for my MG mystery, I always made sure I had a few letters in the queue, because I loved the feeling of knowing something of mine was out there and of hoping that maybe, just maybe, it would open a door. No, I don’t love the rejection process; although, yes, nice/complimentary rejection letters can and do make me feel pretty good. But I do love the hope, the chance that when you open your email in the morning, or when you answer the phone, there just might be balloons and confetti waiting for you.

No, I didn’t really expect the balloons for the grant app, but I guess, without realizing it, I was looking forward to what I will now officially call the “possibility high.”

A few years ago, the funk would have been a lot bigger. I think I’ve gotten better at the waiting, and I certainly have lots to be doing during this period–again, like Shawna recommends. Part of this comes from the reassurance that I have, for the first time in my life, plenty of story ideas percolating in files & in my brain. Another part comes from working on a historical novel, I think, and facing the fact that research adds time–TIME–to the writing process, and that there is no cutting corners on it. I also think, though, that a big part of the understanding comes from spending time online, listening to other writers stories, paying attention to what agents and editors are saying, and just hearing that, yes, this is the way it goes. So…thank you, all.

We have to remember, guys, that we’re in this for the long run. We’re writing because we have stories to tell and because, as hard as it can be, there is nothing…nothing “like simply messing about” with words.

Guess I’ll just have to get my adrenaline fix somewhere else.

What?! I meant, watch. Do you think I’m insane?!


  1. claudine says:

    I love so much about this post. My favorite part is the “possibility high.” That’s what I’m feeling right now as I get ready to do the 3day novel. Maybe it will turn out to be a treasure.
    That’s what I feel when I stop at a garage sale, when I walk into a thrift store, when I cast for a fish, and even when I pick up the phone (sometimes).
    Great new phrase!
    Brilliant pep talk to stay only briefly in the funk. That was great timing on the article. 🙂 Best wishes on all your writing feelers!


  2. Shawna says:

    Hi Becky,

    Great article. I’m in the research zone too… where it can take 5 hours to research a single line. (or fact within the line.)

    It’s good to remember waiting= active verb. ; )


    • beckylevine says:

      Oh, boy, I’m thinking–for the 2nd draft, I’m going to be reading like 2 books for every chapter I write. Okay, not THAT much, but I’ve really been putting off the history details, and it shows.


  3. This is great, Becky. I, too, am an adrenaline junkie who suffers from an addiction to possibility highs. And I, too, can come down pretty hard. Like we often say of strong-willed/hyperactive children: “If only we could re-direct that will/energy…” I know I could use some of those same re-direction skills myself! 🙂


    • beckylevine says:

      It’s the only time in my life, I think, that I crave this kind of up…which makes sense–since I can get it at the computer, without having to go bungee-jumping or anything!


  4. Becky, I can really identify with the way you’re feeling. I was on vacation in early August and planned to come home and work hard on my manuscript for six weeks in preparation for the East of Eden conference. While I was traveling, the conference was canceled, and since getting home, I haven’t been motivated to do a whole lot. I should still be doing all the same revision work, but without a real deadline to work towards, there’s none of that driving adrenaline.

    Disappointing about the SCBWI grant. At least you’ve started on your synopsis, which you’ll need eventually, and I hope you find some adrenaline elsewhere!


    • beckylevine says:

      Lisa–It was a shame about East of Eden, and conferences are great motivators. Have you thought about the Redwood Writers conference in October? Also, it’s a bit further–but the Central Coast Writers Conference in San Luis is happening the middle of this month, and it’s looking pretty great.

      Even if you don’t go, try taking a few baby steps into the revision & hopefully it’ll catch you all by itself. 🙂


  5. nrhatch says:

    Excellent post & I so agree with you:

    “There is nothing . . . nothing “like simply messing about” with words.” ; )

    Enjoy your research and your writing!


    • beckylevine says:

      Thanks! I have a friend who loves the original quote & would probably shoot me for changing this one, but, hey…I get seasick!


  6. beth says:

    I’m like you–I actually enjoy the query process.

    (And that video–whoa! He went up a tree! A TREE!)


    • beckylevine says:

      I know…it’s incredible to watch, isn’t it? I hate to think about how many times he fell to get it right. Except, oh, shoot–that’s probably a great metaphor!

      You’re sort of in a similar spot with the less adrenalin coming in, aren’t you? With one book sold but not out yet and working on the next.(Right? You are working on another one for me, right?!) Hang in there.


  7. Jeanie W says:

    I know what you mean about missing the possibility high. I haven’t sent anything out since I got that last short story rejection in May. I miss the daydreams of success. I could do myself serious financial damage if I were to start buying lottery tickets. 😉

    One reason I don’t have any work *out there* is that as I learn more about the process, I get better at recognizing when something’s not ready for submission. A couple of years ago you might have seen me sending out some of the stories I currently have sitting on my hard drive, but now I’m astute enough to know they need reshaping before they’re suitable to be considered for publication.


    • beckylevine says:

      That is part of the growth, and it’s a good part–but, yeah, without the high. And I love “daydreams of success.” 🙂


  8. Jenn Hubbard says:

    I know exactly what you mean about the thrill of having irons in the fire. I get it, too.


    • beckylevine says:

      It’s a great feeling–even when you don’t know, or doubt, that the result will be good. Hope–weird. 🙂


  9. …nothing “like simply messing about” with words.

    You, me, and Kenneth Grahame. And amen on having lots of things out there, too.


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