19 May 2009 in Lifelines The Mistress of Nothing

One of the things I find hardest about being a writer is all the waiting you have to do.  At any given moment I will be waiting for someone to make a decision that will inevitably have a big effect on my working life.  Here’s a list of what I’m waiting for currently:

1.  book proposal in with a publisher - this is a biggie, because if they don’t like it I’ll have my work cut out with re-working it, and if they do like it, then I’ll have to write the book.  Yikes.

2.  contracts being drawn up and negotiated with educational publisher for project to create 9 digital short fictions for the classroom. This will happen, but before it does, I have to wait before getting started on the project… with the hoped-for delivery date drawing nearer all the time.

3.  book publication - ‘The Mistress of Nothing’ is coming out on 6 July and this means a lot of twiddling of thumbs and holding of breath while waiting to find out if any of our efforts to publicise the book (get it reviewed, get interviewed, getting invited to do readings and festivals etc etc etc) bear fruit.  Double Yikes.

4.  1 conference proposal and 1 submission to digital anthology - will my work be selected?  Could make a huge difference to everything.

5.  all the other stuff I’m too paranoid to write about here - various decisions regarding My Future.  Triple Yikes!

Currently, the amount of waiting I’m doing is outweighing the amount of actual work I’m doing - I’ve reached a tipping point of sorts, I guess, where the pressure of waiting is greater than the pressure of writing and, as a result, I can’t do much of anything apart from try to understand the purpose of Twitter, hang around in Facebook, reply to old e-mails, and write blog posts.  Luckily, I have to go out for a meeting shortly.

Ordinarily I am not grateful for meetings.


Stella Duffy, 19 May 2009, 03:10 PM

you know Kate, the clearest analogy I have for this is that all of us ‘making work’ are really agricultural farmers - we plant our seeds, care for the crop, weed out the dross, run out in a hailstorm, kill off bugs etc etc - all that constant tending and care and effort ... the main (and most agonising) difference being that we have no idea when harvest is, or which is the best market to sell our produce, OR if people are going to want beans this year when we’ve been planting peas! There might be a specific timeline, but all too often it’s a movable feast, and we just have to accomodate that. (AND keep planting meanwhile, just in case nothing comes up at all!) It’s a far-too-extended metaphor, I know, but it works for me when I’m waiting - and waiting. Sometimes all the farmer can do is wait, and let the growing stuff do its thing. And that’s part of the job too.
good luck with the harvest/s!

Kate, 19 May 2009, 03:17 PM

Thanks for the steadying words Stella, much needed.  It’s a good analogy - nothing we can do about the weather but hope for the best.

sarah hymas, 21 May 2009, 12:26 PM

Waiting is one of those seemingly simple things in life that isn’t simple or easy at all. Like thinking of nothing. Or sitting up straight.

Maybe you could try those two (easily combined) activities - might take your mind off the original problem ...

Kate, 22 May 2009, 08:57 AM

Sitting up straight is a real challenge to me… though I’m not too bad at thinking of nothing, especially on trains.

I think waiting is like being itchy.  You can’t touch it but it won’t go away.

litlove, 22 May 2009, 01:06 PM

I like your thought about waiting being itchy. I loathe waiting, not least because I find it immobilises me when there must surely be useful things I could do elsewhere. But no, that receding horizon is hypnotic. Good luck with the book proposal, though. I think they are buggers to write and wish they weren’t such a necessary evil.

Kate, 22 May 2009, 02:30 PM

Thanks Litlove.  And next week is half term so doubtless all decisions about everything will be postponed, yet again…. itch itch itch itch…

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