The Patient Writer

I recently relocated a beloved piece of art from one area of my home to a different and more prime location: my Zoom backdrop.

Chinese calligraphy artwork with gold lettering

I love the brushwork of the golden calligraphy. The main framed Chinese character means “patience.” Ironically, this trait is what I’ve lately needed in my life.

As I reflect on my own writing journey and author’s life, I realize I’ve had to wait and endure. Take these examples:

A binder filled with rejections

I started sending off my poorly written first manuscript to agents about twelve years ago. Instead of receiving shiny acceptances like I’d envisioned, I ended up filling a binder with rejection letters and self-addressed stamped envelopes (remember those?).

"Dear Author" form rejection letter

The slow-moving process of publication:

Originally, both the Midnight Hour crime fiction anthology that I’m a part of and my next Sassy Cat Mystery were scheduled to release on the same day. However, Mimi Lee Cracks the Code eventually got pushed back (by a few weeks) to November 30, 2021 for its new publication date.

Mimi Lee Cracks the Code book cover, featuring pet groomer Mimi Lee and her talking sassy cat Marshmallow

The dreaded editorial letter:

As some of you may know, I’m working on a new culinary cozy series set in Los Angeles called the Night Market Mysteries, which will tentatively (see above) release in June 2022. I turned in my draft to my editor and have been biting my nails, worried about whether she’ll like it (or not). No cover yet for the first book in the series, but here’s a title reveal: Death by Bubble Tea.

The growth of an idea seed:

I keep a notebook filled with potential ideas. Usually, I’m inspired by interesting themes, unique premises, or fully-fleshed characters. One recent idea that popped up in my brain was only a teeny seed, though. I’m waiting for it to germinate and really present itself to me while I read craft books on story structure and admire other writers’ new books. I like having ideas flourish in their own time, but it’s taken a lot of patience for me to wait and let it grow.

small silver watering can

Seeing a visual reminder of patience in my home has grounded me through literary, as well as personal, ups and downs. In fact, the bottommost line of the artwork (thanks to my dad for translating) says, “Be patient a hundred times, you will never have worries!” I’m still taking its wisdom to heart.

What things have you had to endure or be patient about?

32 thoughts on “The Patient Writer

  1. I want to advance read through NetGalley and Edelweiss but both keep turning me down as I am not a professional reviewer or do not have enough experience. I can’t get experience without access to the books!!
    I love your artwork and I can imagine it makes a gorgeous backdrop. That character is one of my favorites, it is “unconnected” in it’s design and that is part of patience to me, waiting for the pieces to come together.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. What a beautiful post, Jen. And that artwork is exquisite.

    Patience. What a virtue. One that doesn’t run in my family. Right now, I’m working on being patient awaiting notes from a new editor as weeks go by, eating up time I need to write the next ms. And patience for the countdown to when I leave in two weeks to see my daughter and be in my beloved NOLA – patience with a bunch o’ nerves, considering the Delta variant.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I feel ya about the Delta Variant. I’m still praying a convo in Dallas in October still remains on. I NEED a change of scenery, it will be my first flight, and I’ll be spending time with a beloved author. Please send great Juju my way, as I send it in return to you, El.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. That is a stunning piece of artwork, Jen! Patience, wow. When I got RIFfed in April from my day job (thanks, COVID), it took a TON of patience to sustain me through the job search, believing I’d find a good match, not jumping at a first offer, not getting discouraged by rejections. A lot like having a manuscript out on query, actually. I started a new gig two months later which is far from perfect, but it’ll do.
    Now, I need patience to get me through the new job learning curve! 😅

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Patience is a virtue… sometimes. It can also be a character flaw. When I finished my first book, I began querying agents, and I persisted for a year. I wish I had received a nicely worded rejection letter from each agent who didn’t want the book, but many chose not to even acknowledge my query: “If you don’t hear from us in ___weeks, the answer is no.” Of course, this puts all the onus on the writer to keep track of dozens of queries, as well as to write, edit and mange his life. Finally after a year, when I turned 65, I made the difficult decision to publish with KDP, and seven books later, I haven’t looked back. Would I be on the NYT bestseller list and waiting for the movie to come out if I was more patient? Anything’s possible. But I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have seven books out in three years if had been traditionally published. It’s as important to know when to stop being patient as it is to be patient.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wise words, Tom, about when to stop being patient. I remember being in the querying trenches and just assuming it was a pass if I didn’t get a response within a certain time. (QueryTracker & Excel were super helpful for me to stay organized.)

      Seven books in three years is a huge feat. Way to go!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Patience. Waiting for things that are out of your control to resolve. So very hard. I’m currently waiting on my newest m.s.–the first in a new series–which my agent has out on submission, and I can tell you it is not easy. So I will try to take to heart your beautiful artwork and breath in…breath out…

    Thank you, Jen! I feel better already.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I “learned” patience (and put it in quotes because I have to keep learning over and over) when my first kid was young. I was so excited to see her move through the next stage. When she was just a lump, I couldn’t wait for her to roll over, then sit up, then crawl, then walk, then talk. By the time #3 came along, I realized how short that time really was, and that I should really settle down, savor it, and not wish their lives to move faster. Even the challenging times I realized I’d miss some day. (We did cloth diapers for 6 years straight, for instance.) So when I want things to hurry up I remember those fleeting times when I should have been more grounded, more present in the here-and-now. Everything happens when it’s supposed to. And if it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t supposed to.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I’m really not patient. After about an hour on something, I’m ready to be done. So I admire the patience you and others have to become the writers you are.

    Liked by 3 people

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  9. Love the artwork and the post, Jen!

    I’ve been getting a heaping helping of patience for the past year or so as I not-so-patiently wait to see what life’s next chapter has in store for me. I’ve been better at practicing professional patience. I force myself to let the draft of whatever I’m writing marinate as long as possible before revising or submitting. It’s been helpful. And illuminating!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m horrible at letting my drafts sit, but I make myself do it to get the proper perspective. I’d rather dive right in and edit.

      As for life’s chapters, those are always tough. Like Becky, though, I’m trying to also enjoy all the little moments in life (maybe I should start up a gratitude journal again!).

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Cynthia and I must have been at the same party. (Kidding. Definitely not a party.) But Jen, this is indeed an inspiring post. I constantly need to remind myself to be more patient, especially when I want a ms. (and my to-do lists) to be instantly d-o-n-e. I’ll keep trying!

    Like

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