Impatience is an ugly little beast, and it always comes out of hibernation at the worst times. Admittedly, I’m incredibly impatient. Waiting for things makes me fidgety and, in my uglier moments, a total crab. And I think even the most patient person in the world has their moments.
When it comes to writing, there are many, many opportunities for impatience to sneak out and possess you with its dangerous impulses. Sometimes it manifests itself in relatively harmless ways, like causing you to check your email every two minutes after you’ve sent a query, but other times, it’s not so harmless.
We all know that querying and, later, going on submission, have the potential to require a good deal of patience, and I think everyone generally prepares for this. Maybe there’s some (hopefully) good-natured whining with friends, but you know there will be waiting, so you suck it up and wait. But sometimes, we forget that our patience is required earlier than that.
It tends to start after you finish that draft. The whole story is there, written down, finished. You know it’s going to need edits, you know it’s going to need betas, but it’s not just in your head anymore, it’s on paper (or, more likely, your computer’s hard drive). You dutifully put your masterpiece in the hands of your carefully selected betas, sit back, and realize…
There’s going to be some waiting.
Working on another WIP can help ward off the evil impatience. So can writing a query letter, and maybe even a dreaded synopsis. Compiling your list of agents to send the query off to. But then, you have that pretty, shiny query letter sitting there on your computer—and that nice happy list of people you want to send it to. Would it really be such a bad idea to send out a little test query?
The answer is, without a doubt, YES.
Think how much time you put into that query. You had other people read it, you reworked it, you let them read it again, on and on until it was as great as you thought it could be. You probably agonized, double (and maybe triple) checking that you addressed it to the right person, that you included what the agent wanted along with the query. Maybe you think you’ll get rejected. Or that you won’t hear back for a while. But you can’t bank on either of these things (unless maybe it’s an agent who notoriously takes months and months to reply to queries. But still…be wary.)
What if you get a request? Shouldn’t you put more effort into your actual manuscript than you did your query? Shouldn’t you wait for the invaluable advice from multiple betas? Edit the way it needs to be edited, rather than on a way-too-limited deadline?
When the impatience monster tries to bite you, tell it where to go. Don’t let it lure you into decisions you’ll regret later, because ultimately, you decide your own fate.
Make it a good one.