Patience and persistence are needed when pursuing a successful career as a writer. After submitting a manuscript, it can take weeks or even months to receive a response from an agent or editor. Positive feedback doesn’t guarantee anything, and dreams may still be delayed. All the waiting can wear a person out. The writer may become discouraged and question if it’s time to give up. If you’re that person, take heart. Author Lori Benton offers a different perspective.
Embrace the Wait
by Lori Benton
Coming to terms with waiting is part of every writer’s journey. Mine is no exception. I’d written stories since childhood, but was in my early twenties (December 1991) when I decided to write a novel and try to get it published. I finished that novel, queried publishers, and received many an encouraging letter... of rejection. For the next eight years I wrote more novels. They were rejected too. Then in 1999 I was diagnosed with cancer, and spent a year in treatment. When it was over and the cancer was in remission, I expected to jump back into writing. I didn't. I struggled with chemo fog, a common, impairing side effect of chemotherapy. It would be five years before I was able to write again.
In 2004 I began retraining myself to write, deciding to try my hand at historical fiction set in the 1700s. It took four years to write that novel, while giving myself an unofficial degree in 18th century American history. 2009 found me querying agents at a writers conference. I was ready, but the manuscript wasn’t. I’d written a sprawling epic nearly twice as long as anyone wanted to see. I spent the following year trimming it, and writing another novel (it wound up being called Burning Sky).
A few months after that conference a group of novelists represented by Books & Such agency held a first chapter contest. The winner would get to submit their manuscript to their agent. That winner was my long-labored-over historical novel. I signed with my agent in April, 2010... and I waited again, while she submitted my work, including Burning Sky, to editors. While I waited I wrote another novel, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn. In December of 2011, twenty years after I began this journey, WaterBrook Press offered a two-book contract. Not for the novel I’d labored so many years over, but the two I wrote while waiting.
Times of waiting are inevitable in this business, but I’m learning to use them wisely, to embrace them as the gifts they’ve always been. Once a contract is signed there comes rushing at a writer many distractions and time-consuming activities that are all about the writing, but aren’t writing. If you’re stuck in a time of waiting, use it well. Dig in. Plant all the stories you can during these seasons and let them grow. Take the time of waiting to nurture them. Play in that garden.
During my seasons of waiting I came to terms with many issues: trust, surrender, acceptance, and joy—the joy of writing, not of being published. I examined my heart and listened for God’s voice as I wrestled with many questions. What if this waiting is forever? Do I still want to write? Is the writing joy enough? The answer eventually came. Yes. It is enough.
And because the writing itself is joy, the seasons of waiting are sweet enough to embrace.
Coming to terms with waiting is part of every writer’s journey. Click to tweet.
If you’re stuck in a time of waiting, use it well. Click to tweet.
Plant all the stories you can during waiting seasons and let them grow. Click to tweet.
Burning Sky is a novel about war, though no battles are depicted in its pages. But the Revolutionary War trails its aftermath of loss through the lives of those who survived it. This is a story about such loss—loss of loved ones, of home, of ability, and identity. It’s the story of wounded people learning to trust a loving God, to understand His nature in the midst of tragedy and pain. It’s a story of faith, hope, and love, spanning generations and cultures, set amidst the war-ravaged New York frontier of 1784.
In the pages of Burning Sky you’ll meet Willa Obenchain, captured by Mohawk Indians twelve years previously and renamed Burning Sky. Stripped of both identities, haunted by each, she’s come home to Shiloh, New York to find the land and people she once knew irrevocably altered and largely unwelcoming. Willa wants to be left alone to mourn her losses, but God has other plans—plans for healing, for restoration. To begin the process He’s placed Scottish botanist Neil MacGregor—and his pesky collie—in her path…
Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God's transforming grace. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching 18th century history, Lori enjoys exploring the mountains with her husband, Brian.
To learn more, please check out these sites:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLoriBenton#
Read the first two chapters of Burning Sky: http://www.multnomahemails.com/wbmlt/pdf/BurningSky_2ChaptExcerpt.pdf