The waiting game

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?

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8 thoughts on “The waiting game

    1. Thank you, Kathy. I didn’t think about this when I wrote the post, but I guess waiting can be a type of divine detour, can’t it? Thank you for reading and for the encouraging words.

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  1. Hey Laura,
    I also taught ESL and did have some wraps with sea weed (bul-go-gi?) in South Korea. I went to college to be a writer, then was too afraid after graduation and gave it up. I moved to Korea and taught ESL. It was a spiritual renewal for me and changed my life. I came back home for seminary, where I rediscovered my passion for writing among other blessings like meeting my wife. After reading your blog, this has given me perspective as I wait to be a successful writer, that sometimes periods in our lives have a purpose even if they aren’t directly related to writing. Sometimes it is hard to see my life outside of my writing timetable. I’m already looking at the next few months as the next book I write, and wonder if 2012 is when I’ll get published. I’d like to be able to enjoy the rest of the year, and 2012 even if I don’t get published, but sometimes my impatience and writing-centered focus makes that hard. Glad to see you are seeing opportunities in your waiting periods. I’m seeing mine right now as the opportunity to practice and get closer to making an awesome book. Things are still moving along quickly, with short stories submitted and podcasts under my belt. I think sometimes we take for granted how much we’ve progressed.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Tim, and for reminding me that I need to remember how much I’ve progressed in my writing ability. I’ve come a long ways since I started writing in high school!

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  2. “Have you ever been through a painful season of waiting (or currently going through one)? How have/are you dealing with the uncertainty?”

    Waiting causes (or grants the opportunity to) one to set aside the desired end goal and reflect on the present, such as you have said, to take the time to improve oneself in some way that would help strengthen or acheive the desired end result. As a single person, take the time to develop your personal interests, character, and relationship with Jesus (if you are a professed follower). The same can be applied to other areas of life.

    Personally, I am 33 and never married. There is a man in my life that will very likely become my spouse some day, but circumstances prevent us from coming together for probably another 3 years. So rather than wasting my time pining for that relationship to come to fruition, I am stepping back and refocusing, deepening my prayer life, working on improving my people skills, volunteering, and growing my entreprenuerial skills. I believe this will cause me to become more well-rounded, and be able to navigate the difficulties of marriage and family better 🙂

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Stephanie. I think you have a very healthy perspective on singlehood–one I definitely didn’t have as a young college student before my husband came along–and that this attitude and the willingness to embrace this “waiting time” will greatly benefit your marriage!

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