‘Play the long game’ is my new mantra; I have it pinned above my desk. When I feel as if I’m falling behind where I think I should be, I remind myself of this. There is no rush. It is not a race.
I started writing seriously several years ago, and by seriously I mean purposeful writing with an aim to be read. On my third queried story (others were written but are in my hard-drive’s bottom drawer), my agent signed me. I was on my way; I had achieved a recognised step on the path to publication. My expectations of how things were going to go after that point were wildly out of kilter with what was actually happening in the publishing world. This is down, in part, to the querying process being widely and extensively discussed and written about. The submission process is less so. Even as I’m typing this, I’m considering what could harm any potential future relationships with editors, and so I can’t discuss my submissions, any editorial comments, whether I’ve met with publishers, the rejections (because if you are writer, you will have been rejected) which leaves me wondering – what is left to share?
Okay, so what do I mean by ‘playing the long game’? Well, to me it means that the next book I write may not be taken up by a publisher and the challenge that presents when writing said book! Why write a book if it might not be published? What a waste of time, some might say. But the flipside, certainly writing-wise, is that nothing is wasted. Every story I write teaches me more about the writing process, a new trick to get the voice right, an editing technique that clicks and conclusive proof to myself that I can write the stories I am daunted by. And the submission process has taught me that publishing is slower than I ever thought possible, that I have more patience than I realised and that I have levels of resilience I never knew I possessed.
So as I start planning my next couple of stories (one middle grade, one teen) I look up at my sign and dig deep, because I’m in this for the long haul.