On learning patience

Friday, January 7, 2011

I am by nature an impatient person.  So far I've never found this quality to be of any benefit to me, and it certainly isn't a good characteristic for a writer or a reader to have.  Right now I'm suffering from impatience because I just (as in ten minutes ago) finished Ally Condie's dystopian YA novel Matched, the first in a three book series.  That's right.  Part one of three.  And the second doesn't come out until November 2011.  Soooo, that means I have a long wait ahead of me.  And I am not good at waiting.  I want instant gratification.  I'm so happy I read the Twilight series after all the books were out. Otherwise, I might have been up for days wondering "Who will Bella choose?  Edward?  Jacob?  Mike?  Or that Tyler kid?  Will she become a vampire?  And will she and Edward ever just do it already?!"  ;-)  And I'm very thankful that I waited until last July to read The Hunger Games, so I only had a month to wait before the final book came out.  If I'd had to wait much longer the stress might have killed me.

I think, as a reader, it is sometimes difficult to remember how long it really takes to put a book together--not just the writing, and that alone can take years.  I'm a slow writer, so even on a good day I can usually only write about five pages.  Five pages that took five hours to write, and maybe another hour of research, and another hour or two of revision.  A full work day to compose five pages that the average reader will consume in ten minutes.  Today I read 200+ pages of Matched, a 366-page book.  Since Ally Condie also admits to being a slow writer and that the second Matched book, Crossed, has already taken fourteen months, I'm going to estimate that today I read what it took Condie ten months or so to write--and that's in addition to all of the editorial revisions she must have made and all of the hurdles of publication.

Sometimes when impatience sets in I must remind myself of how long and arduous the journey is from a single idea to a published book, that while one can receive almost instant gratification from reading a great novel or seeing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or listening to Brahms' First Symphony, years can go into their making.  Years, for just a few hours of individual joy.  But anything truly great takes time, commitment, the belief that the end result will be worth all the wait.  And so, as I begin the long wait until November for Crossed to be released into the world, I will also try to remember to be patient with my own writing, that writing isn't glossy book covers and acid-free pages and reviews in the Times--it's long hours staring at a computer monitor, rearranging words and sentences and pages and deleting them and adding them back and questioning whether any of it works and whether anyone should want to read it.  That it's work--hard work.  But that in the end, the result is so worth the wait.

Who could resist this fantastic cover!

1 comments:

Tawnysha Greene January 8, 2011 at 4:13 PM  

I love this post!

"writing isn't glossy book covers and acid-free pages and reviews in the Times--it's long hours starring at a computer monitor, rearranging words and sentences and pages and deleting them and adding them back"

So true!

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