Monday, January 9, 2012

How To Wait for Your Agent To Call

I did not care how noisy it was in the ski lodge.

By Cindy Jones

I spent the holidays finalizing revisions on my novel while my family skied.  Yesterday I sent the third draft to my agent, with the expectation that we are almost there.  But, I don’t know this for certain, and now I am waiting to hear from her.  Waiting.
As a writer, I have spent a lot of time waiting, and instead of worrying about sitting still while the industry evolves, books become obsolete, and publishing, as we know it, ceases to exist, I’ve developed a strategy for dealing with the tension.  Rather than obsessing over how long it is taking, I try to distract myself.  Here are a few of my strategies for coping:

I did not care how small my work space was
1.       Avoid electronics.  Obsessively checking email in places like carpool line—where it is illegal to operate a cell phone--in theatres—where your screen should be dark--and during serious spousal conversations--where full attention is required, will make you crazy.  As will imagining what your agent is doing from the moment you hit ‘send’.  She will respond when the time is right, probably while you are in carpool line, in the theatre, or having a serious spousal conversation.  Or going to bed.  Melatonin, anyone?  

2.       Check for friends.  Surely you can find an old friend who will put up with your ‘there/not there’ relationship style.  Rekindle human relationships with the people who value you for your ability to zone in and out during the same sentence.  Schedule lunch dates and listen.  Repress the urge to cannibalize your friends’ lives, take notes on vocal tics, or memorize conversation topics for future use.  Avoid the temptation to create back stories for people at other tables.

3.       Join husband’s White Paint Patrol.  During intense creative periods, I defer household maintenance.  In fact, dirt is not visible to my reality-challenged vision and my concentration cannot be spared for finding cleaning supplies.  (Sock matching is a semi-annual event in my laundry room).  When writing at capacity I am unable to help my husband patrol baseboards no matter how cute he makes the white paint sound.  But now that I’m in the waiting mode, I’m resolved to fix something that is visible to the human eye.
It was a beautiful day for writing inside.

4.       Get under the radar with Teenagers.  Remove their ear buds and ask questions.  Boy teenagers are my only constituent to support Total Immersion Novel Writing without reserve.
5.       Keep the momentum going.  To be quite honest there is only one fully guaranteed method to speed minutes into hours and to burn through days as if they were pages in a compelling novel.  And that is to engage in the challenge, exertion, and fulfillment of writing.  Start another novel.  Plunge back into the world of imagination where to sit down at 8 am means losing touch with time, traffic, and all rules of civilization until forced to provide dinner.   

I'm resolved to devote my current waiting time to matching socks and performing feats of household maintenance, but the truth is that I cannot walk to the laundry room without forsaking reality.  And there is no more fertile daydream launcher than the mindless swamp of the sock hamper.  Even as I write this, I am wondering what page my agent is on.  

Will my agent go full speed ahead into editorial submission or discover a profound defect in my work and send me back to the drawing board?  For the answer to these and other questions, follow me:     

Cindy Jones is the author of the debut novel, My Jane Austen Summer.  HarperCollins Publishers holds an option on her next book.  


  1. I'm right there with you, Sister . . . I'll try some of your strategies when I'm done rearranging all the linen closets and the pantry!

  2. Funny!
    I hate waiting too. Maddening!

  3. Love this post, Cindy! Waiting is such torture!!

  4. Thanks, ladies. I FORGOT about the linen closets. What the heck, I'll never make it out of the laundry room...

  5. Crossing fingers for you, Cindy! :-)

  6. Thank you, Susan!! I'm crossing eyebrows and toes as well.

  7. Just imagine that your agent has the very same sock hamper - might help reduce the anxiety.

  8. I'm sorry, dear, but is there a reason why I do not see wine on this list?

  9. Maddy-You are right, but if you saw my sock'd notify the authorities.

    Lauren--See? That's the kind of oversight that will land me in a 4th draft situation. Sheesh--how could I forget wine???

  10. Wine is important and maybe some cheese and crackers. You could throw a party in the laundry room. Think of all the stories you could share about the socks!

  11. A party in the laundry room. That would be fun. Except we'd have to stash the socks in the washer and dryer and hide the hamper in order to fit more people.