Learn to be still..
There are so many contradictions
In all these messages we send
(we keep asking)
How do I get out of here
Where do I fit in? Though the world is torn and shaken
Even if your heart is breakin’
It’s waiting for you to awaken
And someday you will – Learn to be still
Learn to be still
Partial lyrics by Don Henly/Glenn Frye The Eagles
My sister-in-law has a great picture in her kitchen of a canon with flowers exploding from it that says in big letters: Give me Patience….NOW!!! My basic nature is not patient… though I have learned to be better at it. I grew up in a family where passions ran on full throttle! But you can’t be a therapist or learn how to meditate without first learning to be comfortable with silence and with waiting. So at this point in my life I usually can be good about letting go and just trusting that things will happen when they are meant to happen.
But I admit I felt like the proverbial cat perched out on our genuinely tin roof after I sent off my query letter last Sunday night. By Monday, once I came home from work, I kept myself busy by reading posts on Chuck Sambuchino’s blog, Writer Unboxed. He is the editor of the Guide to Literary Agents (2013, 2012, 2011….) and works for Publisher’s Marketplace.
And after reviewing some of his posts including a really great one on how to write a novel synopsis, and some on platforms, I felt like I had done a lot right. My book has had beta readers. It’s pretty polished. It’s grammatically correct….and the feedback I’ve gotten has been good. Chuck went so far as to say a writer who didn’t do a platform and wasn’t searchable on Google wasn’t ready to be published. This platform, my blog, seems to be drawing more and more readers, so… ok so good so far I kept reassuring myself.
And I really believed I had picked an agent who would LOVE The Call but by Tuesday I was getting queasy whenever I checked my e-mail. And that’s what Chuck suggested, checking e-mail, oh, wait, did he say once a day? Not once every 10 minutes? So I made myself stop and breathe, and began to listen to music and do some other things while getting ready to drive back from Raleigh to Edenton.
One of the good things about my choice of agent for my very first query letter was that while she did not accept a synopsis or any sample pages she did promise to get back on a query in a week to ten days. So I wouldn’t be on pins and needles long. Still, imagine my surprise when I checked again late Tuesday afternoon to find my first rejection had been delivered. No fanfare. Form letter sent. So much for the perfect choice I thought I had made! No long drawn out death…but bang “your novel is not a good match to our interests at this time.”
The Moody Blues sing in my head: “Tuesday afternoon… Something calls to me, I have to find out why, The gentle voices I hear, Explain it all with a sigh…
Learn to be still…
So where am I now? Despite my nerves in anticipation of getting a rejection what surprises me is just how ok I am over this. Perhaps that is because the actuality was less intense than the anticipation of it. I don’t know. Or maybe it is because I really have “learned how to be abased and how to abound…or learned in whatsoever state I am in to be content.” I’d like to think so ….or at least for this moment. We need the peace of stillness. We need the healing of peace. And no doubt this was just the first of what will be many rejections.
Yet at the same time being still is a blessing, sitting still and doing nothing is not. So, I plan to regroup. I know I’ll rebound. And I will finish my synopsis and start again. “Tuesday afternoon…I’m just beginning to see, now I’m on my way, It doesn’t matter to me, chasing the clouds away…”
Hopefully when I send my next query I’ll have many fewer nerves a jangle. That next time I want to believe, as the Eagles say it…It will be “just another day in Paradise.” Hopefully I’ll have better luck! Until then, I’ll keep practicing patience, until I get it right.