By Dr. Mollie Bond
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
Have you ever been in a situation like this? You are at home, sitting on the couch. Then you get up and look out the window. Then, back to the couch. Maybe you’ll try to read a book; Maybe not. Set down the book. Look out the window. Wonder if the clock is going backward. Wonder if you should call.
All to see the installation truck come 30 minutes later than anticipated.
Recently I waited for the person to come and install our internet. If you’ve gone without internet, you’ll agree it’s much harder than you think. The reason for the delay was legit, but it tested my patience. I hope I displayed more patience in that situation than in others. If I did have more patience, then it came from one activity: writing. Displaying patience while writing is like waiting for internet when you really need it.
Plenty of classes and seminars exist to help discover the publishing and writing industry (and most of the great ones are here on this site). Degrees exist to help hone the craft. Groups provide accountability and encouragement. But where is the lesson on how to be patient and not stalk publishers? I would like to see that checklist, please!
To be patient means to be active while waiting. I learned that from my mother who is a saint and my picture of perfect patience. She isn’t lazy, but she isn’t idle either. She builds, plans, shapes; And then she sees the flowers bloom, or the stew reach perfection, or the relationship strengthened.
I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of patience in other people, too. As a writer, many have gone before us with stories of rejections, years passing in waiting, and the forever string of edits and requests. And the conclusion of their story is the contract, the agent, the book. It is a picture of actively waiting.
Years ago, at a conference, I found out that the Hebrew language has several different words for waiting. For example, Psalms 27:14 says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” The “wait” in this verse means, “to bind together (by twisting)” in Hebrew. That reminds me of my mom. Always busy, always patient; Creating a tapestry by twisting and building with focused energy. Patience pays off when idle hands are kept busy; And more than busy—focused on the goal. Actively waiting is biblical and necessary in patience, and in writing.
Another passage helped me understand the value of actively waiting and staying focused on my writing. Psalm 37:7a, which says, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him….” This “wait” denotes whirling. It is a different word from Psalms 27 but still translated as “wait” in English. Both words lead us to think about spinning and creating. God’s proactive waiting takes work, time, and creativity.
And it’s not just patience that a writer needs to successfully wait. The element of focus must also be present.
Can I share with you how I know writing has increased my focused patience while I was waiting? It’s a ten-year long story. Shortly after my divorce, I dove into writing as a tool for healing. I had lost my job at the same time, so there was plenty of time to write. I would write for hours in the morning and then work at my part-time job in the afternoon. It was great. I finished a full book during that season and was consistently posting each week on a blog.
Like most, I attended a writer’s conference that showed me the value of a platform. I found there were others like me; I found my tribe. I learned about how to share an elevator pitch and I learned how to approach publishers who were all kind to me in those early days with their suggestions.
From there, I wrote another book. This one targeted a specific audience, and I sent it to the publisher from the conference who had requested a proposal. I got my first rejection and wore it like a badge of honor. This publisher showed interest in the project, but my proposal needed some help. If I had sent them a second version, I could have possibly been published in my late 20s. Instead, I got shy. I got busy and unfocused because it was taking too long. I didn’t wait.
Ten years later, after a successful career as a grant proposal writer and the completion of a dissertation, I still get grouchy if I don’t write for myself. I can’t sleep until my thoughts are inked. Paper is my release of emotion, thoughts, and understanding.
So, I had to pick up the dream again. I wrote yet another book. I sent in yet another proposal. I received yet another rejection. I couldn’t be patient to send the same proposal; In my naïveté I allowed one rejection to speak for the entire industry. I had racked up three books, three rejections, and no contracts. This time, rather than pitching in the towel, I decided to test my patience. I actively waited, using the time to focus on building my network.
During the time of binding, twisting, weaving, I had lunch with a former CEO of a publishing house. Of course, you don’t talk to someone of that stature without mentioning that you’re a writer. And, of course, she was polite and asked me what the books were about. I gave my three elevator pitches, and one seemed to be of legitimate interest. She gave me some houses to consider and we parted ways.
I did submit a proposal to another publisher—the one that just needed polishing ten years ago. I submitted it on a Saturday and got a response on Monday for more of the manuscript. By Friday, I had a contract to consider.
While my story won’t be like yours, or anyone else’s, what I hope you glean is that actively waiting is worth it. Patience produces perfection. Faith follows focus.
So, stay focused, actively creating, and dare I say, patient. Keep writing. Enjoy the journey. While you are waiting for that next rejection, that next edit, that next year of hope, continue to hone the craft, attend classes, and encourage others in your group. You know why? Because you are just waiting anyway.
Dr. Mollie Bond is a writer, coach, and nonprofit professional. During the day, she’s using her doctorate in nonprofit leadership by fundraising for Lutheran Community Services Northwest, an organization that cares for vulnerable populations in the Pacific Northwest. She also serves on the board of Providence Heights, a second-phase step for women on the brink of becoming homeless. By night, she’s writing for various publications, including 4wordwomen.org, Grant Professionals Association, and others.
Mollie’s first book will be published in 2021 for people who are separated from their spouse due to marital struggles. Visit Facebook and search for HopelesslyHopefulBooks to read her weekly blog posts and stay current on the book launch.