Patience is something I’ve always had — or at least I’d like to think I’ve always had. Waiting has always been a part of my life. Waiting my turn, waiting for the bus, waiting to get home, waiting to hear back from colleges, waiting for grades… well, you get the picture. These are just micro details; the smaller parts that make up the bigger picture of waiting to figure out who I am and what, or who, I wanted to be. I just didn’t think that so much of following my dreams would include this much waiting.
If you come into publishing thinking that it’s a fast-paced industry, where you’ll sign your agent tomorrow and have a six-figure book deal by the end of the week you’re wrong. Not to say that this doesn’t happen, but it’s rare. It’s the exception. It’s the Cinderella stories that give us hope that we, too, can be the next Stephanie Meyer or E.L. James. I don’t bring up J.K. Rowling here because of the amount of waiting she did, of the amount of rejections she received. She just happened to make it big despite it all.
Even if you do get that book deal now, your book won’t actually come out until a year or two from now (at a minimum). This is just how things go. And it took me awhile to accept that, for being a New York-centric industry, it does not move at a New York pace. As a writer, this can be frustrating. And this same frustration has, instead of being focused on the waiting game of publishing, has been focused on how long it’s taking me to heal from my traumatic brain injury, or TBI.
When you query an agent in January, you’d hope to hear back (realistically) in six to eight weeks. Sometimes this takes even longer. Sometimes you never hear back. When I fell in January, I had expected to be back to normal in four weeks. But here it is now the end of July and, well, I’m still waiting.
And it’s hard to wait. It’s hard to sit have to have days where I’m completely tuned out from work and it’s hard to be completely honest on social media about how I’m feeling. I mean, how professional does it look when your potential editor tweets something like Too depressed to get out of bed today or Even the Ritalin my psychiatrist prescribed cannot help me focus today.
The thing is, though, I have to be patient and I can’t push myself. I have to only take on as much work as I can handle without prolonging my healing time even further. If a press or agent told me it would be two years before I’d hear back from them, I’d seriously question their professionalism or ability to run a business. But I can’t do that with my neurologist. I can’t look at him, at one of the best neurologists in the area, and tell him that a two year recover time isn’t good enough. Especially when I continuously end up pushing myself in ways that prolong my recovery time.
It’s like when you query an agent, and then you send a follow-up which then puts you back at the bottom of their slush pile.
Advice for querying writers is to get busy with new projects to help them take their mind off of staring at their inbox. Advice for those dealing with post concussion syndrome or TBI’s is much different. We have to relax. Go slow. Be aware of what triggers our anxiety and other symptoms.
But studies are showing that there are certain activities that do help brain injuries heal. There are things I can do that will help restore my balance, my concentration, and my motivation, beyond what I’m doing with physical therapy. As far back as the mid-1990’s, therapeutic horseback riding has been seen as helpful for those recovering from TBI’s. Although physical therapy co-pays have been eating into my riding lesson funds, horseback riding has helped immensely. Not only have I begun to restore my muscles, but it’s a workout I can handle without my symptoms getting worse. Plus there’s the added bonus of being around horses.
This weekend, however, I started a new aspect to my recovery. I started playing a video game. It’s not Pokemon Go (okay, I admit that is on my phone), but a game called Never Alone. The premise is pretty simple but I’m able to work on my coordination, problem solving skills, and helps me work on my inner-ear issues which have been causing massive dizziness when I try and read for prolonged periods of time.
The point to all of this is that waiting is a part of life. It’s not one of the more fun parts, but there are things we can do to help making the waiting easier. We can rediscover how much we loved something that we used to do when we were younger. We can find the inspiration that helps us move on to another project. Or maybe, just maybe, we find that one reason that helps us get out of bed in the morning.
Whatever you’re waiting for, just remember that you’re not alone. No matter what happens, there are people in your life that love you and support you. Even if you’re like me and can’t remember someone’s cell phone number, what day of the week it is, or something that could’ve been said five minutes ago.
We’re all waiting for something to happen. We just have to keep living our lives despite the wait.