I know, I know, that was lame. But it's quite true. Anyone who has attempted to write a book will tell you that a writer is just as much the caretaker of a story as its creator. A farmer can't make a sprout grow faster by tugging on it, and this will only damage or even kill the plant. Part of a writer's job is to nudge the story along and overcome writer's block, but they have to let the story grow and blossom in its own time. A rushed book is very easy to spot. But this is not the kind of patience that I want to discuss. I want to examine the patience necessary in other aspects of the writing field.
I write at a fairly rapid pace, usually churning out full-length novels every 5-8 months. Some big name authors write even more quickly, such as Dean Koontz. Yet Mr. Koontz also has an army of researchers, proofreaders, and editors to speed along the writing and publication process to satiate the ravenous appetites of his hungry fans. I am signed with a small (but rapidly growing) publisher who doesn't have the manpower or resources to fire my books off as quick as I can write them. As of when this article is posted, I currently have two novels and two short stories available for purchase. I also have two novels and one short story on the publisher's desk waiting for the all-clear, and I expect to have another novel completed in another month.
Now of course I'm chomping at the bit, ready to fire these rockets out into the world and start picking up sales, reviews, and building my rep. But I know the publisher is swamped with dozens of other projects and authors, there are strategic schedules for releasing books, etc. And this is where I have to be patient. Of course, someone could argue that this makes a good case for going the self-publishing route, but as a younger unknown author, it helps my street cred to have the backing of a legitimate publisher and I wouldn't toss aside these benefits in favor of a faster release schedule.
Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing recently passed away. Her first book was published in 1950 but it wasn't until 1962 that her "breakout" novel was released. That means she labored quietly for twelve years, honing her craft, learning the business, and waiting for her chance to grab the spotlight.
I've only been writing professionally for two years, and if my timeframe for success follows Ms. Lessing's, I can expect to have twenty books published before I hit the mainstream. I hope it doesn't take that long, but this example serves to illustrate the necessity of patience in waiting for success.
Some authors hit a home run with their first book and that's awesome. I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't want that to happen to me. But with the way I am going now - slowly building a fan base, showcasing my skills and diversity, networking with people in the business - I am able to build a steady pace that will be more sustainable in the long run. If and when success does come, I hope I will have the maturity, sincerity, and humility to handle it well and keep that fire burning. But until then, I have to be patient.
There is one clear benefit of still being in the shadows: I write for the love of writing. Of course I would love to achieve financial success and receive a manageable amount of fame and acclaim, but since I don't have these yet to motivate me, the only thing that keeps me going is my passion for writing. And to be honest, that is the ultimate reward. More than the possibility of money and fame, I hope I can attain the simple yet sweet satisfaction of taking something I love and doing it well. "Now that's a good book," is the greatest success any writer can reach.