As games go, waiting reminds me of dodgeball in elementary school when, inevitably, I didn’t dodge quick enough and a ball slammed my head and usually smashed my glasses in my face. In other words, it isn’t fun.
Right now, I’m waiting on replies for several query letters. I’ve sent out many letters in the past year, and I’ve learned that the publication game seems to involve a lot of waiting (at least at this point). I do my part: write query letter, research agents, tailor the email according to their specifications (a query only? Query plus five pages? Query plus five pages plus synopsis? Some variation on the above?), and click send. My part is over; they have the dubious privilege of reading my letter and responding.
And then I wait. I might hear back quickly or slowly or not at all. And I wait.
Like a lot of life situations, the waiting is the hardest part. I’ve had friends waiting on things of far more significance than a query letter reply.
- The person attending their friends’ weddings, wondering if anyone will ever love them.
- The woman realizing her period has started yet once more, that once more she isn’t pregnant, and the man who holds her, silently grieving that he isn’t yet a father.
- The man waiting for his wife to return, knowing that she’s chosen to go her own way rather than stay with him and their children.
- Waiting on an accurate diagnosis for mysterious chronic pain, the right medication to heal, the cure that eludes researchers.
- Waiting for a call back on a job interview, watching savings disappear from the bank account.
I remember how difficult it was when I dealt with secondary infertility, wondering what was wrong with my body, and then the heartache of miscarrying our second child after two-and-a-half years of trying. Was there going to be an end to this? The answer wasn’t forthcoming soon enough for my taste.
The open-ended waiting is the hardest. When I don’t know if an answer will come, I wonder if it’s even worthwhile to ask the question.
Recently, I revisited my first novel, re-read the opening pages, and was horrified by how clumsy and ineffective they were. “I’ve been sending those five pages to agents?” Then I had an epiphany: I could use this time of waiting to strengthen this book. I have learned a great deal about the writing craft while slaving over my second novel and I can apply this knowledge in my revisions. So maybe this season of waiting has a purpose.
During my relatively brief period of secondary infertility, I taught ESL and vicariously explored other cultures, learned that I like seaweed wraps, developed insight about how confusing the English language is, and met incredible people. I grew as a person. If I had gotten pregnant when I wanted to, I’m not sure that I would’ve had the physical or mental energy to teach. So there was a benefit to this time.
I doubt this is a comfort to someone who aches because of singleness, infertility and the like. But I offer this as encouragement to try to see what else can be done during this season of waiting.
It won’t take away the heartache. It won’t necessarily ease it, either. But if you allow yourself, you may find that you’ve grown and matured as a person.
Have you ever been through a painful season of waiting (or currently going through one)? How have/are you dealing with the uncertainty?