« Sucking Up | Main | Now You See Her »

December 13, 2005

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

By Sarah

I knew it would come to this, that my life would be reduced to a Tom Petty song and the posters that used to hang in our high school secretary's office: "You Want it When?" and "Hang in There Baby!," "It's Almost TGIF!" or "Hurry Up And Wait."

But it's the Petty poet whose scratchy vocals play over and over in my head: "The waiting is the hardest part." If there's not a poster for that already, surely one's in production.

Granted, I'm not waiting for test results or to be executed at midnight so I can't really complain. What I'm waiting for is my editor to get back to me on the manuscript that I pretty much killed myself to complete, as the Book Tarts can attest.

This was the manuscript that last spring started off as a Bubbles book and then, in the middle of the summer, a verrrry high up executive at Penguin "suggested" I change to another stand alone due in February for publication in the fall of '06. Though when the marketing department heard of the idea, proposed that we change the pub date to this summer which meant that my poor editor had to casually mention, "Uhm, how about a Dec. 1 deadline?"

A December 1 deadline? Was she crazy? Well, even if she was crazy - which, thankfully, she isn't - there was nothing I could do about it. Hey, I'm not Sue Grafton or Nora Roberts. I lick the crumbs off the floor over there at Penguin and I do as I'm told. Which meant I fueled myself on Diet Mt. Dew and Trident and got the book in by Dec. 2. Pretty damn good.

And now the waiting.

Waiting is part of the publishing process. It starts with sending out the query letters for your first book, and then the agent rejections. This is followed (let's think positively, shall we?) by the agent acceptance (yeah!) and then the rewrites and the submissions to the publisher. More waiting.

During these waiting periods I've run through my Filofax of success/horror stories: the debut author who came home from grocery shopping to find a message on the machine from her agent, giddy over the six-figure-book-deal won at auction.:) Or the author who checks her messages every two minutes to find one from her agent apologizing profusely and offering to send copies of the rejections in a FedEx box. :(

In the beginning I don't mind the waiting. There are so many things I've wanted to do, but couldn't, because of the *&%$ book. There were other books to read, for starters. And a knitting project to finish, not to mention the scum to be scraped off my kitchen floor, the home office to be shoveled out, the Christmas shopping to be done. Yes, the first day of turning in a manuscript is heaven. Naps. Working out. Pure relaxation.

It doesn't take long, though, for the doubts to surface. Soon I find myself constantly checking email hoping for I LOVED IT!! or SURELY, THIS IS YOUR BREAKOUT BOOK! or A 100,000 PRINT RUN, NATCH! from Julie my editor. Instead it's FREE CI*AL!S. Listen, I don't need to get it up. I need to get it approved. Can't those spammers understand that?

Nothing. Okay, it's been only a week. Julie my editor is not Superwoman. And, yes, I know there are other authors. Still....

No, no, no. I really am going to be positive. So I won't mull over the possibility that Julie has put down the manuscript and turned to her window looking out over the gray, wintry New York skyline, hands behind her back, her shoulders slumped. What will they do? This book is already in the summer Penguin catalog and it's, well, a piece of crap. The worst writing ever!! Calls will have to be made. Contracts broken. My agent - the one on maternity leave - will have to be contacted at home, or worse, the head honchos at ICM who will decide that I am too a)bothersome b)piddly to be kept on.

I will become "a story," a cautionary tale to other writers. Nancy Martin will catch wind of it through her agent who will start off, "Did you hear what happened to Sarah Strohmeyer?"

And the cruelty of it all is that I know in my heart it is the best book I've ever written.

There's only one thing left to do - start another book, which I've done. That and finish my shopping and remember my mantra: Achieve Excellence, Avoid Success or, my backup mantra, One Day Closer to Death.

Though I'm open to other suggestions. Between you and me, the death thing's not all that appealing.

Stay warm,



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Waiting is the Hardest Part:


Heh! I've been going around saying that I will never, ever, EVER, accept a mid January deadline for a manuscript again.

I can barely finish READING a book during December, much less finish writing one.

Sarah, you STILL haven't heard? Yeesh, you must be dyin'. Or else baking more Christmas cookies than an entire could possibly eat. Or painting woodwork again, maybe? Anyway, congrats on finishing the book. It's going to be hard to top Secret Wives. I'm so glad to hear you say it's the best you've ever written.--That alone, is the best barometer. Your editor is loving it, I'm sure.

BTW: My agent never, but *never* gossips.

But I must admit I hear a lot through other sources. So far, however, nothing about you, girl. ;-)

Sarah, I'm so incredibly proud of you for being so self-disciplined and getting that manuscript done. Now if I could just borrow some of your focus, I'd be in good shape myself. Gulp. (Dusty, my deadlines are always December and/or January...how did that happen???)

May I suggest a trip to Florida? It's *cold* out there. ;-)

Congrats on finishing the ms., and I know it's easy to say not to borrow trouble or to anticipate, period...it's much harder to do.

Best of luck to you, Sarah.

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win, but think you can't
It's almost a cinch you wont.
If you think you'll lose,you're lost
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will:
It's all in the state of mind.
Walter D. Wintle
Cheer up little Buckaroo, your already a WINNER in the minds of your friends and family! Who else needs to believe that, but them?

Darn tootin it's cold out there. -7 this morning, Carla. But, hey, we're gonna get a huge snowstorm on Friday!!

Actually, since I've adopted a more laid back approach to life, I'm jiggy with whatever happens on my book. As my next door neighbor who has funky ovarian/abdominal cancer says, "It doesn't really matter, this success stuff, anyway. I just want to be with my family."

Maybe I should blog about her next time!

Nancy's Agent: Did you hear what happened to Sarah Strohmeyer?

Misc. Publishing Person: No, what?

Nancy's Agent: She became a bestselling author and lived happily every after. It was that book she wrote with the Dec. 1 deadline.

Misc. Publishing Person: Oh, everyone already knew that; I was looking for fodder for schadenfreude. So dish!!

OK - breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Secret Lives was fabulous - as you know, it got you new fans in half a dozen states just that I know of.

This book is better than Secret Lives.

Ergo, this book will be fantastic.

Simple logic.

Now, for the more emotional stuff. Here are some suggestions:

1. Dr. Suess says: "You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot, for the people and places you're lucky you're not." In other words, you're better off than most people. This is my Irish side of the family's philosophy.

2. Hey! You finished the manuscript! Let's have a party! Someone get the food, someone else get the drink, put on some music and let's dance. This is my Italian side of the family's philosophy.

I prefer the latter.

We writers sure are an insecure bunch, aren't we? All will be fine, Sarah. Center yourself. Find peace. :)

Waiting seems to be the name of this game. The worst wait of all is waiting a friggin' year or more for the first book to come out. You put yourself out there as a writer, but nobody has anything to go by.

Is the guy any good? Who the hell knows?

You guys are the best. Why can't you move into my brain? (I've got really comfortable chairs and a fully stocked fridge.)

Hey, my piano teacher turned 84 yesterday. She called and was so excited because she'd been so busy she hadn't made her bed!!

Seriously. She's gorgeous. She's stylish and she's as sharp as a Hammacher blade. Plus, she plays a mean Beethoven.

Her key to success? Faith in "an Other," as she says. (She lost a child to cancer and STILL believes.) That and a feeling of gratitude.

So, yes, Kathy. You reminded me of that - thanks!

Josh, go find your own Schadenfreude. If you wait another week, I think it goes on sale at Target. If you must have it this week, you'll pay top dollar.
Sarah, save me a chair and knit me an afghan; I'm moving into your brain. I love that "an Other" line. Happy Birthday to Ms. Beethoven.

Sarah, I've had to rethink my personal motto over the years, as a perfectionist with way too much on her plate, and it's come down to this one: Do your best and f**k the rest. Hey, and it even rhymes!

I'm sure you'll be fine. It's only been a week and a half (says the man who hates to wait an hour for an answer to an e-mail he was nervous about sending.)

Linda Rohnstadt does a great cover of that song.
(Insert encouraging statement here.)
All this talk of inspirational posters and schadenfreude reminds me of this one I had over my desk during my brief but disasterous grad school experience:

(Not that this in any way applies to you, Sarah.(See enouraging statement above. (I wonder how many parantheticals I can put in a post before I get banned?)) But it sure did apply to me.)

Sarah, I think it must be some unwritten law that piano teachers (good ones, anyway) have to be at least 75 years old. My teacher turns 80 in a few weeks, and she can run circles around me AND beat the snot out of my tae kwon do instructor. They must be absorbing some magical youth potion through the keys, huh?
Cold out ? Nah, it's sunny and has warmed up to a balmy 23 degrees. Attila the Husband is supposed to go out of town but may have to cancel because of that coming snow/ice storm. Oh please,please,pretty please, no. It's like a mini vacation having the house to myself. Just me, the fireplace, a glass of wine, and a Mel Gibson movie marathon. sigh.

Hi, Sarah,

I feel your pain. I had the same Penguin-pushing-back-the-deadline situation for my second book (though my drink of choice was Red Bull, not Dew)! And I've also experienced the hurry up (until you kill yourself) then wait cycle. I wrote a very similar blog entry back in November about the three agonizing weeks I waited to hear back on a proposal -- which ultimately resulted in a very nice two-book deal. To tell the truth, it's kind of reassuring to see that someone as talented and accomplished as you goes through the same anxiety that I do. I'm sure your editor will love your book -- and so will your many fans.
- Alison

You go Sarah!
I'm working on the rewrites suggested by my agent and know that in January I'll be on the same emotional merry-go-round and in the email-checking-frenzy as you.

On the weather front, I'm sweating on behalf of all you coldies - it's 9 am, over 30 degrees c, 90 percent humidity. Ah, the Australian summer ...

Okay, that's enough worrying. Happy time!


Sarah, while I really hate for you that you're going through this, I wanted to thank you for posting about it. I turned in my book a shade over a week ago, and of course, haven't heard anything yet. It's so completely nerve-wracking, and I keep trying to do other things and there are a thousand details (catching up on our business paperwork, Christmas, two kids graduating this week) and yet, yesterday I had the most profoundly deep blue funk I've had in years. It's just damned scary. (I think I would have gone over the cliff if my agent hadn't seen it first and loved it.)

If it's even half as good as Secret Lives, you've got a winner. So fingers crossed you hear very soon and that they are clearly wowed.

The comments to this entry are closed.

The Breast Cancer Site