Thursday, 21 August 2008



I'm told the reading public don't like "coincidences" in plots. Life isn't as critical. My hard drive gave up on the very day I'd promised to send my MS to the editor. Only Thomas Hardy could get away with such a dire coincidence. My obsessive backups (see previous posts) came into their own, and I think I've retained a tenuous hold on sanity. The MS has gone and a new hard drive has been installed. So I'm waiting to hear from the editor again.

Publication date is moving closer... My book has moved up the list on my publisher's website. Since sending the MS back to the editor, I've been busy distracting myself. When that fails, I check my emails half a dozen times a day (understatement).

A friend at work is in the early stages of a relationship. As she wonders volubly if he will phone, I'm wondering when my editor will contact me. Our situations are not dissimilar. It's frightening how our life experience is transformed by the actions of strangers - a job interview, a random act of violence, a publisher's decision. And the other side of the coin is how our own actions can affect others' lives.

So I'm back on the blog, not prevaricating, but as a distraction. The best way I know of doing that, is to dive into another world. So I should be working on book 2. It's well on the way. But first, I think I'll visit a few blogs...

How do other writers cope with the waiting when they've sent their MS off? Any helpful hints gratefully received. Reading them will help pass the time...

33 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

It is hard to have some major element of your life sort of at the mercy of others. It scares me. I try to avoid thinking/dwelling on it by writing on a new project or just by escaping into other work.

Leigh Russell said...

I spent some time writing writing short stories this summer. I finished one every day or two. By the time I realised each one wasn't as brilliant as I'd first thought, I was on to the buzz of finishing my next 'masterpiece'. It was a pleasant way to spend the summer - I'd recommend it any time you need to massage your writing ego. Now I'm short storied out (seems I can't even write English any longer!) and it's back to the reality of waiting for the edits... Term starts in just over a week, and then reality will hit with a vengeance. But it's been a good summer, sitting at my desk, typing :)

Leigh Russell said...

ps Good to hear from you, Charles G. You're right, it's scarey.

Debs said...

You have my sympathies, a dying hard drive is horrendous especially at such an unfortunate time. Well done on keeping hold of your sanity.

I spent my time by concentrating on the next piece of writing.

I hope your editor contacts you soon and puts you out of your misery.

Bill Clark said...

You can always read Ecclesiaticus: to everything there is a season, etc.

Oh - I have a much more fun book for you to read - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Fabulous! Have hankies handy!

Leigh Russell said...

Can't wait to order it from my bookshop, Bill... !

fizzycat said...

Think I would have a nice read, or just read something, to allow me to escape the thoughts.
Well done your daughter on her veg growing ( yes the tomato , it is a fruit but I have never seen a tomato in a fruit bowl).

BernardL said...

Just as you have been doing, Leigh, working on other books until I hear about queries on other manuscripts. I'm happy your publishing date is moving up. It must seem like a lifetime between them accepting it, and when the book finally will be ready.

Vwriter said...

I do the same, thing, Leigh. In between novels I write short stories. Or a screenplay. Anything but face up to the fact that, as Charles says, I have this important element of my life being sorted out by "...the mercy of others."

Once I even tried to fill the gap with a screenplay. But never, ever, by writing poetry. That level of skill is a bit beyond me. But, if I could compose poetry like Pablo Neruda, I'm not sure I'd care what happened to my novel!

The World According To Me said...

Arr, the important telephone call. Sometimes I hate the telephone, cursing it for not ringing and allowing me to speak to a certain important person.

I would love to read some of your short stories. All different subjects?

Roll on 'Cut Short' publication date. Even if it doesn't contain your photograph!

Monique said...

Ah, that wait. My longest was nine months.

Patience is a virtue, they say and I have learned patience by sitting in the casualties department of various hospital waiting rooms for hours and hours with a very accident prone daughter. That was a good lesson.

I'm very patient now, forget all about it, keep writing and dismiss yet another NO with a shrug of my shoulders.

This is what I learned from my dearly departed mother: You always have a no, you might get a yes.

Cheers

Leigh Russell said...

FIZZYCAT - a nice read. I've been doing some reading which I couldn't settle to while I was writing.

BERNARDL - It does seem like a lifetime!

VWRITER - I've thought (very hypothetically) about writing a stage play. I don't think I could begin to tackle a screen play. It's a thought, though... Maybe a screen play of one of my books (dreaming the dream here...)

WORLD ACCORDING TO ME - I found a number of short story competitions some of which specificed themes and I found that was a good discipline as writing practice. Hence the different subjects and genres. I even wrote a sci fi story of which I'm rather proud, and a few humorous ones. Not for general release, you understand, just for fun.

MONIQUE - yes, waiting in hospital does put the waiting for a publisher/editor into perspective, doesn't it. I hope your daughter's learned to avoid accidents.
I like to try and think positively about rejections. If it's going to take x number of attempts to get a result, then every 'no' is one ateempt closer to a 'yes'. Based on a dodgy premise, but it's a positive response to rejections...

Sleepy said...

Funny that, because as people we thrive on coincidence!
We love those freakish similarities that draw us to certain people.
Those people who make us say,
"I don't know what it is about them, but there's something".

Ho Hum... Thanks for the blog visit.
Nice to see you.

Mel said...

Waiting is the hardest part, especially with the immediacy of the communication in the modern world. Sorry to hear about your hard drive but glad it is working now.

I am not at the submitting an MS stage yet but tend to have 2-3 things on the go and rotate writing and editing! Looking forward to seeing it in the shops soon!

Leigh Russell said...

SLEEPY - real life coincidences do seem to be more comon than you'd expect. whenever I tell anyone about strange coincidences I've experienced, I've yet to come across someone who hasn't also experienced some inexplicable synchronicity in their life.

MEL - yes, I supppose it's true, we're not used to having to wait. In this modern age, we expect answers instantly. It's hard to be patient.

Anne Lyken-Garner said...

Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to wait on other people, ever...?

I remember my husband's hard drive crashing while in the middle of his PHd thesis years ago. I can still hear his 'man scream' inside my head to this day. He hadn't made recent back-ups and nearly went mad. (It all turned out fine in the end.)

I'm glad you had back-ups.

Hopefully, things will move on swiftly from now on.

Leigh, have you heard of Authonomy? Check it out, it's a website run by Harper Collins for writers to showcase their books. You'll like it, I think.

Best, Anne

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Anne
How did it all turn out fine in the end, with no back up? I'm guessing the hard drive was restored somehow? (All totally incomprehensible to me.)
I checked out Authonomy. It looks very interesting. Thank you for the hint.

Josephine Damian said...

Leigh: There's Murphy's Law, and then there's Murphy's Law for computers. I've learned the hard way about back-ups.

But even with backed-up files, there's nothing like a dead computer to stop you in your tracks, which is why I've become a big believer in having more than one computer.

A computer repair person worth their salt can retrieve anything on a crashed hard-drive - but it'll cost you.

IMO, it's important to have a life outside writing and writers, especially something that will be a sense of accomplishment. It's one reason why I play chess. I also tend to neglect housework and yardwork so badly when I'm writing, I need those long waits to catch up on cleaning!

Barbara Martin said...

Thank you for commenting on my blog.

I have heard the same thing about "coincidences" in plots, although in life one encounters them all the time. At least I have.

While waiting to hear back on an MS sent out, the best thing is to get writing on something new. I post mostly non-fiction historical features which tend to provide useful background for a future creative endeavour.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

When I've got something on submission, I put it out of my brain and get on with the business at hand. It's been a hard discipline to get, sure, but ... it was that or go nuts over something I can't control.

Seemed like an easy choice in the end!

Britta Coleman said...

Definitely find a new obsession, to help ward off the "when will my editor call" neuroses. I suggest knitting.

My condolences on the hard drive, and way to go you for having backup!

Leigh Russell said...

Josephine - Murphy's Law for computers - sums it up.
I've never yet abandonned writing for housework... and I lack the patience for chess. But I have a day job which takes me away from my computer far too often.

Barbara - the historical background must be absorbing. I'm a bit skimpy on my research, I have to admit. I've been writing some short stories set in the future, which gives me more of a free hand.

Susan - You're right, it's a hard discipline, refusing to go nuts over something you can't control, but a necessary one. All part of "life's rich tapestry".

Britta - I'm afraid my knitting is a bit of a family joke. Not one of my finer accomplishments, although I do enjoy knitting. I end up with a cupboard stuffed with uneven odd looking scarves that no one wants.

Monty said...

Not being stymied at all, you probably have not read 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Cameron but she has an interesting take on synchronicity - that it is the universe's way of helping you get where you want to be. [GOD is 'Good Orderly Direction' as well as all the religious connotations. GOD as the ultimate creator from where you get your creativity from - all up for grabs. Brilliant wee course on getting your creative side back on its feet should you need it. Gush gush].
All the best with the MS, I'm sure it'll do brilliantly and the phone will ring soon!
Knitting is about the process as well as the production so don't give up just cos the scarves are lopsided. Took me a while to get there but now I make more complicted stuff. Also crochet is even more fun ;) it's all about the stress relief. And maybe a cute critter or two, hee hee.
Much respect for keeping your head up through the scary writing maze, you rock!

Leigh Russell said...

MONTY - about the process as well as the production So true. I try to think of life as a journey, not a destination. Appreciate the ride.

Eryl Shields said...

You've reminded me that I must back up my stuff. I've heard that google do free storage for their mail users, and must look into it. Actually, I'll do it right now.

Leigh Russell said...

Can't back up too frequently, if you ask me!

Pauline Rowson said...

Hi Leigh, Thanks for leaving a comment on one of my blogs: authorsonlineworkshop. I think we met on the blogosphere before on my own blog paulinerowson.com I had the story of the taxi driver in London who picked up a fare, (carrying a heavy suitcase) only to deliver him to the next street -or was that someone other than you who commented on it. Anyway, I thought it was a good idea for my next thriller. There is a saying in the book trade that the publishing industry works at three speeds: slow, dead slow and stop. I too am waiting to hear if I have another two book contract for my crime novels (I've got five published now) and I HATE waiting around for other people, so know how you feel. My answer is and always has been keep writing. I am always ahead of the game. Plus this summer I got a commission to write a murder mystery play for the live theatre. Writing it was tremendous fun and I might dabble with more, plus a screenplay. One final bit of advice is do chase people up including editors (which I am sure you do) but balance that with not being too much of a pest! Good luck, Pauline

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Pauline
You're right about the difficulty of giving reminders without being a pest. Not an easy line to tread when you're feeling impatient, in any situation, is it? A live theatre project sounds like fun.

dabrah said...

I can't talk from experience I'm afraid, but when I'm edgy, I go out in the garden and dig my vegetable patch, or else I go to the pool and swim and swim and swim (for hours if necessary).

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Dabrah - yes, physical exertion is always good to relieve stress. I'd lovee to move to Florida & have my very own swimming pool! Housework just isn't the same.

Anne Lyken-Garner said...

Leigh, have you had time to check out Authonomy yet?

Here is a link to my book there. I've uploaded a few chapters rather than the excerpts I have on my blog.

Please read and have a look when you have the time.

http://www.authonomy.com/ViewBook.aspx?bookid=486

Cheers,
Anne

Leigh Russell said...

Thanks Anne. I'm back at work & working on 2 MS at the moment, so won't have time to look for a while (sounds like my editor... sorry!) I'll definitely read the longer extracts when I can & get back to you on your blog. Thank you.

Vwriter said...

All right, Leigh- if you don't post again soon we're going to stage some kind of protest.

We miss you!