Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In the Waiting Line -- Robin

We all go through it. You know…the wait. Is today going to be the day that I get “the call” and my life will be changed forever? Or will I simply go to the grocery store and wait in line to buy the same old cereal and the same old jug of milk and the same old box of double fudge Nestle’s Crunch ice cream bars? Who knows!

Lately, there’s been a lot of bloggin’ out there about this dreaded wait. I applaud The Mighty Dotificus for showing her feelings about the topic and I can’t help but laugh that my dear Evie thought her agent was giving her “the call” when she had actually maxed out her credit card.

As I was thinking about how the wait is making me a crazy person, I remembered a conversation the three of us had with author Cecil Castellucci a few years ago at the national SCBWI conference. She had just recently sold her first book, Boy Proof, and confidently told us that she knew she would eventually sell a book. “As long as your writing is good,” Cecil said, “all you have to do is stand in line and wait your turn.” She said it without even twitching or breaking out with a string of Tourette’s-style curse words. She just said it and meant it.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m waiting in line for my turn to come up. And waiting in line for a publisher to love your book is very similar to standing in line at the grocery store. You look for the shortest line to stand in, then look around at all the other lines wondering if you made a mistake by standing in that one. You look at everyone else’s groceries and estimate how long it will take for them to get through, then look at the cashier and estimate their level of ability when it comes to typing in vegetable codes and wonder if it’s your cashier’s first day on the job. This will take forever, you think. But then you have a flash of empathy and you see the person behind you only has one item and you let them go in front of you, but when it’s their turn, a bell suddenly rings and the inexperienced cashier yells, “Congratulations! You’re our millionth customer of the day! You get a three book deal!” That should be me, you think. And then you change lines.

Sometimes my line is moving so slow I wonder if it’s even moving at all. But my agent reminded me that progress is slow, but it is progress. At her workshop on setting goals, she asked me, “Are you closer to your goal than you were a year ago?”

And my answer: Definitely yes.

So I hope my cashier is good and experienced and this line moves quickly. I’ve got double fudge Nestle’s Crunch ice cream bars melting here!

- Robin


LindaBudz said...

My line is like the lines on the American Idol tryout shows ... it's wrapping around the stadium. Except the people in line with me are generally a lot less annoying and a whole lot more talented.

Natalie said...

Great post, Robin! And then there's waiting in line Italian-style, where people cut in front of you all the time (that would be those who jump up and down when they get an agent one week, and a 5-book deal with a major house the next week). Sigh. But then there are those who see my toddler in meltdown-mode and let me cut in front of them, for which I am always eternally grateful. Either way, I'm right behind you in line, Robin, ready and willing to help you out with those melting Nestle's Crunch ice cream bars. :-)

Colorado Writer said...

Yes! It's very true. As writers, we are all waiting for different things.

Some are waiting for their book to come out, some for an agent to notice them, some for the agent to shop the thing, and some are still waiting for the time and inclination to finish that first novel.

The key to the waiting? Having fun and enjoying the ride!

You Disco Mermaids are really good at that! Thanks for the encouraging post!

Lisa said...

Love this post, Robin. And I'm so glad you shared Cecil's words of wisdom.

My first wait was about 3 months, and the book sold. It will be out in Jan! Now my agent is shopping a mid-grade. I'm less anxious this time. It's a quirky little book that's going to take just the right editor, and I'm willing to wait and let the universe do its thing and make a perfect match.

So yeah, if I have to stand in line, watching others at the checkstand win the big prize or pull out 333 coupons or write a check when there are now DEBIT machines, then I will stand back and patiently wait. Well, the patient part - most of the time. :)

As for you, I hope you reach the checkout stand SOON! We're pulling for ya!

Dot said...

And another good reason not to lock whiny posts to my LJ-- Disco Mermaids linkage! Thanks, Robin!

Yes, I was fortified by reading an interview with Cecil a couple of years ago (maybe on Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog?) where she discussed her ten-year theory--that almost everyone has to wait about ten years.

Why does it help so much to know others are in the same agonizing line? It seems sick. But it does-- thanks for this post!

Wild About Words said...


Hope you and Eve rocket to the front of your lines . . . and when you get there, I hope you discover a pile of coupons you didn't realize you had and a big store promotion and a really nice bagger to take your groceries to the car.

Now you've gone and made me hungry for ice cream bars. Off to the grocery store,

Disco Mermaids said...

Hey, Dot! I thought your post was hilarious and truthful. Keep 'em coming!

And isn't Cecil such an inspiration!?


Anonymous said...

Dude, you totally have to enjoy the line-waiting because even if no one in front of you uses coupons or argues with the cashier about how the coupon for Downey should really work with Bounce, you're still gonna end up in the same place - in your car on your way home to deal with all the stuff you couldn't wait to pay for. Then what? You have to unload it, put it away, cook it, clean up later and DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN!!!! Which is fine, of course, but it puts it in perspective.

I was thinking along these same lines (get it?!?) the other day and I realized how special this time - even the waiting - is for the Discomermaids. I know the process can be painful, but it can also be extremely fun, no? And, the results of the process, when they come, can also be painful as well as heady and affirming of your talent.

Sooooo, if none of this really wise stuff makes sense, have a drink and go hot-tubbing with your fellow Discomermaids and savor what you have together.


Anonymous said...

i hear ya. i also think it has to be the right book at the right time. i tried to get my first book published before me (or my book) was ready. it took some where and tear on both myself AND my writing in order to be ready for my 'turn.' sometimes the wait is where the good stuff comes from. *heidi=9

cynjay said...

I think I got into the 10-Items-or-Less line behind the crazy lady who assumed that her 40 cans of cat food counted as one item.

Clean up on aisle three!

Laura Salas said...

Loved your post, Robin. Don't love the waiting, but love the steady belief in yourself that Cecil's attitude implies.

I have finally (after about 10 years, in fact) sold my first trade book and have an agent. Somehow, the waiting doesn't really get much easier!

On good days, I tell myself that another book will sell, it's just a matter of time. On bad days, I'm convinced my first book's company will be sold or my editor will leave or my illustrator will have a crisis or it will get all bad reviews...I'm working on having more good days!

Little Willow said...

Have you heard the songs The Waiting Line by Zero 7 and The Waiting Room by Sixpence None the Richer? Those are the songs in my head whenever I see those phrases in posts and books!